The function of Chekhovian subtext in Marlen Khutsiev’s July Rain

Marina Madorskaya, University of Michigan

Based on Z. G. Mints’ classification of reminiscences, this paper examines the function of Chekhovian subtext in Marlen Khutsiev’s film July Rain (Mosfilm, 1967). The film centers on the private life of the elite intelligentsia, departing from the more customary portrayal of intellectuals at work. The direct quote from Chekhov comes toward the end of the film: a fragment from a radio recording of a theatrical performance of Three Sisters. The quote is the longest in a series of radio fragments that constitute the film’s soundtrack. It functions as a polygenetic and polysemantic cultural symbol, keying the viewer to a specific reading of the film’s topography, the relationships between characters, the meaning of the soundtrack, and the plot movement itself. There is one other direct quote from Three Sisters as well as a number of hidden quotes on the levels of theme, characters and plot. The goal of the paper is to analyze the function of these quotes in the film and place them in the context of other cultural symbols. Among the latter are the songs of Bulat Okudzhava, the presence of and the songs of Iurii Vizbor, references to Eduard Bagritskii, Pushkin, and the Italian Rennaissance.


Z. Mints, “Funktsiia Reministsentsii v Poetike Al. Bloka.” Poetika Aleksandra Bloka. Sankt-Peterburg: Iksusstvo-SPB, 1999. 362-389.