First Love (1970 film)

First Love (German: Erste Liebe) is a 1970 film, written, directed, and starred in by Austrian director Maximilian Schell. It is an adaptation of Ivan Turgenev's homonymous novella starring Schell, Dominique Sanda, and John Moulder-Brown.

First Love
Film poster
Directed byMaximilian Schell
Produced byBarry Levinson
Maximilian Schell
Written byScreenplay:
Maximilian Schell
Ivan Turgenev
StarringMaximilian Schell
Dominique Sanda
John Moulder-Brown
Music byMark London
CinematographySven Nykvist
Edited byDagmar Hirtz
Release date
West Germany


For plot details, see First Love, the novella by Ivan Turgenev.



Roger Greenspun of The New York Times wrote of the film that "despite its pretentiousness, its prettiness, its 1,000 excesses—and to a degree perhaps because of them—it succeeds as vision even while it looks as if it were being suffocated by style."[2] Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film two stars out of four and wrote, "The problem in 'First Love' (apart from the fact that the conclusion in no way emerges organically from the material) is that the whole movie is so smug in its sense of tragedy. In his directing debut, Maximilian Schell has taken a Turgenev story and stretched it out with silence, vast characterless landscapes, plenty of birds, some solitude and a visual style that doesn't help much."[3] Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune gave the film an identical two-star grade and declared, "Schell neglects to pare Turgenev's story to the essential element of a young boy's love for a visiting neighbor, and attempts to include some of the Russian author's social comment on the superficiality of the ruling class. The result is a screenplay with vaulting ambition that is neither sensual nor witty." [4] Variety called it "a sincere, affectionate and exquisitely pretty picture of youthful love—or infatuation—against the leisurely but already threatened backdrop of a world and society that was, but that symbolically also mirrors the present day."[5] Charles Champlin of the Los Angeles Times stated, "At moments 'First Love' is overly elliptical and confusing, though the main advance of the narrative never falters. What is especially noteworthy is the film's power of suggestion and restraint in conveying an atmosphere highly charged with decadent sex."[6] Gary Arnold of The Washington Post wrote, "Cinematographer Sven Nykvist puts on a swell show, performing one stunning feat of luminosity after another, but director Maximilian Schell is compulsively unilluminating about matters of theme and character and historical period and continuity."[7]


1971 Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film (Switzerland)[8]
1971 Won the "Film Award in Gold" for "Outstanding Feature Film"
  • San Sebastián International Film Festival
1970 Maximilian Schell Won the "Silver Seashell" award

See also


  1. "'First Love' Festival Entry". BoxOffice. June 29, 1970. 7.
  2. Greenspun, Roger (October 8, 1970). "Screen: Romantic Pose". The New York Times. 59.
  3. Ebert, Roger (December 2, 1971). "First Love". Retrieved May 28, 2019.
  4. Siskel, Gene (November 30, 1971). "2 on Teen-Age Love". Chicago Tribune. Section 2, p. 5.
  5. "Film Reviews: First Love". Variety. July 22, 1970. 16.
  6. Champlin, Charles (November 25, 1970). "Camera Elonquent in 'Love'". Los Angeles Times. Part IV, p. 1, 14.
  7. Arnold, Gary (November 14, 1970). "'First Love': Too Much Visual Poetry". The Washington Post. C6.
  8. "The 43rd Academy Awards (1971) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved 2011-11-26.

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