Friday, March 1, 2013

The Stern October Has Deceived Me

We have been watching a 2005 mini-series on Sergei Yesenin.  It seemed to me a rather sloppy production with Sergei Bezrukov emoting all over the place.  He was most maddening in his brief interlude with Isadora Duncan, poorly played by Sean Young.  You feel sorry for the young "translator" caught between them in these tumultuous scenes that took him from Moscow to the beaches of Italy and eventually to New York, where he very quickly grew weary of this relationship and returned to Mother Russia.

As the poem title implies, Yesenin was a reluctant Bolshevik at best, and eventually turned his back on Trotsky, played very well by Konstantin Khabenski, replete with his famous pince-nez.  This pretty much sealed Yesenin's fate in the brave new Soviet Union, which emerged from a bitter four-year civil war.

Yesenin served briefly in WWI, but was able to avoid the worst of the civil war, focusing on his poetry.  He did a number of collaborations which brought him fame.  He was one of many young poets at the time vying for attention.  He co-founded the movement Imaginism, which included Anatoli Marienhof among others.  Most of his poems celebrated his homeland, such as Land I Love.  Unfortunately, I couldn't find a copy of The Stern October Has Deceived Me, which expressed his ultimate disillusionment with the Soviet experiment.

There was no doubt about his impulsive nature.  He married four times between 1917 and his untimely death in 1925, lastly Tolstoy's granddaughter, Sophia Andreyevna.  Igor Zaitsev frames the series in a detective story, with Aleksandr Michailov playing the gumshoe who re-examines the events that led to Yesenin's death some 60 years later during the Perestroika years of the Soviet Union, only to find there are still Soviet officials that don't want the truth to be told.  The belief that Yesenin had committed suicide had long been questioned, and the series makes it clear the NKVD saw him as a threat to the state.

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