Madame Sousatzka

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Madame Sousatzka
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJohn Schlesinger
Written byRuth Prawer Jhabvala
Based onMadame Sousatzka
by Bernice Rubens
Produced byRobin Dalton
CinematographyNat Crosby
Edited byPeter Honess
Music byGerald Gouriet
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • 14 October 1988 (1988-10-14)
Running time
122 minutes
CountriesUnited Kingdom
Budget$9 million
Box office$3,548,238

Madame Sousatzka is a 1988 drama film directed by John Schlesinger, with a screenplay by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. It is based upon the 1962 novel of the same name by Bernice Rubens.


Indian immigrant Sushila Sen (Shabana Azmi) lives in London with her son Manek (Navin Chowdhry), who is musically gifted. She supports them both as a caterer of Indian food, while Manek studies the piano with Madame Sousatzka (Shirley MacLaine), who is a Russian-American immigrant. Madame Sousatzka, while highly talented, never succeeded as a pianist and thus lives through her students, particularly talented ones such as Manek. Manek is soon forced to choose between Madame Sousatzka and his mother, who both compete for his attention.

The Russian pianist and teacher Madame Maria Levinskaya (died 1960) inspired the character of Madame Sousatzka.[1] The plot is based on the experiences of Harold Rubens, a child prodigy pianist who began lessons with Levinskaya from the age of seven (in 1925) and became her star pupil.[2]



Award Category Recipient(s) Result
British Academy Film Awards[3] Best Actress in a Supporting Role Peggy Ashcroft Nominated
David di Donatello Awards Best Foreign Actress Shirley MacLaine Nominated
Golden Globe Awards[4] Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama Won[a]
Best Original Score – Motion Picture Gerald Gouriet Nominated
Retirement Research Foundation Awards Television and Theatrical Film Fiction Robin Dalton Nominated
USC Scripter Awards[5] Ruth Prawer Jhabvala (screenwriter);
Bernice Rubens (author)
Venice Film Festival[6] Golden Lion John Schlesinger Nominated
Best Actress Shirley MacLaine Won[b]


The film was released in U.S. theaters on 14 October 1988. Some time after its theatrical run, the movie was released on videocassette by MCA Home Video in 1989. The movie was released on DVD in the U.S. by Universal Studios Home Entertainment under their Vault Series banner on 28 August 2014.

A region 2 DVD was released by Network in 2007 (catalogue nr. 7952723). The extras are a trailer and some production stills.



  1. ^ Allis, Michael. Temporaries and Eternals: The Music Criticism of Aldous Huxley (2013), p. 56
  2. ^ Bernice Rubens. Madame Sousatzka (1960), new edition Bloomsbury Press, September 2011
  3. ^ "BAFTA Awards: Film in 1990". BAFTA. 1990. Retrieved 16 September 2016.
  4. ^ "Madame Sousatzka – Golden Globes". HFPA. Retrieved 5 July 2021.
  5. ^ "Past Scripter Awards". USC Scripter Award. Retrieved 8 November 2021.
  6. ^ "VENICE 1988 – THE 45TH VENICE FILM FESTIVAL". Retrieved 6 October 2013.

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