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The Childhood of Maxim Gorky (1938)
"Detstvo Gorkogo" (original title)

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A drama reveals the great writer's inauspicious early years as an orphan raised by conniving relatives.



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Complete credited cast:
Aleksei Lyarsky ...
Varvara Massalitinova ...
Mikhail Troyanovsky ...
Vasili Vasilyevich Kashirin, grandfather
Elizaveta Alekseeva ...
Varvara Kashirina Peshkova, mother (as E. Alekseeva)
Vyacheslav Novikov ...
Uncle Yakov Kashirin (as V. Novikov)
Aleksandr Zhukov ...
Mikhail Kashirin, an uncle
K. Zubkov ...
Old Grigori
Daniil Sagal ...
Ivan, aka 'Gypsy'
Sergey Tikhonravov ...
The Lodger (as S. Tikhonravov)
Igor Smirnov ...
Alexei, aka 'Lenka' or 'Lex', a crippled boy
E. Mamaev ...
Sacha Kashirin, nephew
V. Korochentchikov ...
Mikhail's son, also named Sacha


This haunting, unforgettable film, based upon Maxim Gorky's 1913 autobiography, shows a twelve-year-old's journey in life against the tumultuous backdrop of 19th century Russia. With tableaux beautifully vivid and forceful, it recounts the touching relationships which develop when Gorky is put into custody at his grandparents' home. His grandmother, a simple woman who knows how to make people laugh, represents optimism in the direst situations, honesty in a world of deceit. Gorky's poverty-stricken childhood formed his life-long compassion for the underdog, and the film is filled with powerful portraits of lower class people whose qualities of integrity and dignity shine through their hopeless circumstances. Among many others are the half-blind Grigory, who works at the grandfather's dye factory, and Gorky's little orphaned friends, who live out of garbage cans, dreaming of a utopian neverland. From these portraits come an inspiring, panoramic view of human conditions and conflicts. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Biography | Drama


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Release Date:

27 September 1938 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

My Childhood  »

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Referenced in The Final Cut: Episode #1.3 (1995) See more »

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User Reviews

Stand firm and be strong!
30 October 2014 | by (Belgium) – See all my reviews

In his moving autobiographical novel 'My Childhood', Maxim Gorky saw his childhood as 'a beehive to which various single obscure people brought the honey of their knowledge and thoughts on life; often their honey was dirty and bitter, but every scrap of knowledge was honey all the same.'

Mark Donskoy recreated forcefully this 'beehive' full of loves, like the one between a grandmother and her grandchild, full of fighting or camaraderie among the children, but also, full of brutal violence between wife and husband or between parents and adult children, full of superstition, of alcoholism, of poverty and of revolutionary actions against the czarist State. His directing of a memorable cast (with a marvelous babushka), and in the first place of the children, is simply sublime. The street, kermis and sea scenery is brilliantly shot by his cinematographer, Pyotr Yermolov. The movie's prime message is that 'if we are ordered to do something wrong, our duty is to stand firm and be strong.' This impressive human portrait of life in the 19th century should be a reminder for all spectators of where we all come from. A real masterpiece.

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