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Can Brits film Pushkin?

The cultural and aesthetic challenges of putting Russia's national poem on the big screen

By Yuri Senokosov   March 2000

Dear yuri,

I enjoyed seeing the film of Eugene Onegin with you during your brief stay in London. I know that the film had a hostile reception in your country. Many Russians considered it impertinent of a British director to film their national poem. Critics leapt with glee upon the movie’s most conspicuous blunder-a Soviet song in a 19th-century drawing room. But I saw nothing offensive to Russia in this modest and intelligent attempt to render Pushkin to film. The idea that a nation’s culture is inaccessible to foreigners would have puzzled Pushkin, who wrote French as fluently as Russian…

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