The Childhood of Maxim Gorky

Director: Mark Donskoi
Year Released: 1938
Rating: 3.0

Reconstruction of Russian writer Gorky's youth - taken from his autobiography - into bite-sized vignettes, which show his friendship with some of the other peasant kids, his encounters with a political radical, his love for his protective Grandmother and his prone-to-violence Grandfather, and how these relationships contributed to his own particular view on ethics and morality. Although it's inherently self-righteous - and the audience is continuously reminded of the 'nobility' of Gorky's extremely humble beginnings by Donskoi - the acting is superb, and the children are fine performers (including the young man who plays Gorky and is able to seem either frightened, mischievous or defiant, depending on the situation). It also has the consideration to 'flesh out' the Grandfather character - who, along with poverty itself, is one of the picture's 'antagonists' - and allows for all sides of his (admittedly complex) personality to shine through (he can be supportive even when he isn't losing his cool).