The Classic Film of the Soviet Ballet “The Red Poppy”

Above: Director Pavel Blumenfeld’s 1955 film of the ballet The Red Poppy, with Reinhold Glière’s stunning score

It’s a story of cruelty, love, envy and redemption through kindness and hope. The story could have taken place anytime, anywhere, but in The Red Poppy, the 1927 Soviet ballet set to music of Reinhold Glière, it took place at a seaport in 1920s China.

And the story goes something like this: a port commander brutally drives a group of slave laborers on the docks. A sea captain tries to rescue the workers from their tyrannical master. A young woman, who dances to entertain sailors aboard a docked ship, witnesses the captain’s acts of mercy and, inspired, gives him a red poppy. Jealous, her boss gets orders her to kill the captain. She refuses and is killed in a riot. But as she dies she gives a red flower to a young girl.

Above, view the 1955 film version of The Red Poppy produced by Czechoslovak TV.

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