Conceived as a vehicle for Goldwyn's protégée Anna Sten, this adaptation of Tolstoy's novel Resurrection was turned into something more by Mamoulian's superb direction. He opens with an airy Dovzhenko pastiche to introduce the light-hearted farmyard flirtation between Prince Dmitri (March) and serving maid Katusha (Sten). Then, clearly drawing on his own background, he stages a stunning evocation of the Russian Orthodox Easter Mass, carrying the richly sensuous mood over into the seduction scene that immediately follows. The inescapable parallel between worship by the soul and by the senses intimates that Dimitri is motivated as much by love as by lust; and this lends conviction to his 'resurrection' when, seven years later, he realises his culpability in the girl's physical (though not spiritual) degradation, and follows her into Siberia. The second half of the film rather loses its momentum in a flurry of explanatory plot and scratchily staged scenes, but is sustained by the performances. Gregg Toland's camerawork is superlative throughout.
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