Maschenka (1987 film)

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Directed byJohn Goldschmidt
Produced byManfred D. Heid
Written byVladimir Nabokov (novel) (as V. Sirin)
Screenplay byJohn Mortimer
Based onMary (novel)
StarringCary Elwes
Irina Brook
Freddie Jones
Michael Gough
Lena Stolze
Jean-Claude Brialy
Music byNick Glowna
CinematographyWolfgang Treu
Edited byTanja Schmidbauer
Distributed byGoldcrest Films
Release date
Running time
103 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

Maschenka (Russian: Машенька, Mashen'ka; English: Mary) is a 1987 British film adaptation of the debut novel by Vladimir Nabokov, first published under his pen name V. Sirin in 1926. The film was directed by John Goldschmidt from a screenplay by John Mortimer and stars Cary Elwes as Ganin and Irina Brook as Maschenka.


The story, said to be semi-autobiographical, is of Lev Glebovich Ganin (Elwes), a Russian émigré who has been displaced by the Russian Revolution. Now living in a boarding house in Berlin, Ganin discovers that his long-lost first love, Maschenka (Brook) is the wife of the rather unappealing boarder next door, Alfyrov (Coy), and that and she is on her way to rejoin her husband. This knowledge, combined with the incessant recitation of his memories of old Russia by another boarder, Podtyagin (Jones), send him into a state of reverie. Ganin contrives a complex scheme in order to reunite with Maschenka, who he believes still loves him.


Actor Role
Cary Elwes Ganin
Irina Brook Maschenka
Sunnyi Melles Lilli
Jonathan Coy Alferov
Freddie Jones Podtyagin
Michael Gough Vater
Jean-Claude Brialy Kolin
Lena Stolze Klara
Vernon Dobtcheff Yasha


The motion picture was filmed on location in Berlin, West Germany and in Helsinki and Katajanokka, Finland. For the sequence depicting Maschenka's arrival by train the producers rented the Russian Imperial Finnish train that once belonged to the Romanov family.


Goldschmidt won the Cine De Luca Award for Directing at the Monte Carlo TV Festival.

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