Archive of films The Luzhin Defence / The Luzhin Defence

United Kingdom
2000, 106 min

Section: Horizons
Year: 2001


The story is set in the 1920s and tells of the shy and taciturn chess genius Alexander Luzhin who arrives in Italy to play the most important game of his life. During a childhood marked by the separation of his parents, chess was his only passion, his refuge and whole universe. One day the young Russian aristocrat Natalia enters Luzhin’s life; Natalia’s parents are set on finding an advantageous match for her. Her mother has already selected a candidate in the wealthy Count Jean de Stassard who is evidently attracted to Natalia. The latter’s encounter with the eccentric Luzhin, however, changes everything. The urbane Stassard offers her romantic boat trips and spiritless superficial conversation. Luzhin’s impulsive behaviour is hardly romantic but Natalia is overwhelmed by his genius. With Natalia’s arrival, Luzhin discovers a completely new and unfamiliar world, a world far removed from his chess obsession. But it is also a world Luzhin is unprepared for, and its collision with his life thusfar, consisting solely of chess games, can only end in tragedy.

About the director

Marleen Gorris studied English at Groningen University and drama at Amsterdam University. She completed a drama course at Birmingham University in England in 1976. She debuted as a director with the film A Question of Silence which won Best Film at the festival in Utrecht and was also awarded at the Taormina festival in Sicily. Gorris also wrote the screenplay for her next film, Broken Mirrors, which won Best Film at the San Francisco IFF. She also wrote and directed The Last Island which was premiered in Holland in 1990. In 1992 she made a series for Dutch television entitled Tales from a Street. She also directed Mrs Dalloway, starring Vanessa Redgrave and Rupert Graves. Her best known film to date is the Oscar-winning social comedy Antonia’s Line.

About the film

Black & white, 35 mm

Section: Horizons
Director: Marleen Gorris
Screenplay: Peter Berry podle románu Vladimira Nabokova/based on the novel by Vladimir Nabokov
Dir. of Photography: Bernard Lutic
Music: Alexandre Desplat
Editor: Michaël Reichwein
Producer: Caroline Wood, Stephen Evans, Louis Becker, Philippe Guez
Production: Renaissance Films
Cast: John Turturro, Emily Watson, Geraldine James, Stuart Wilson, Christopher Thompson, Fabio Sartor, Peter Blythe, Orla Brady

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