Film: The Lady with the Dog [Dama s sobachkoj]
Director: Iosif Kheifits
Performers: Iya Savvina, Aleksey Batalov
Production Information: Lenfilm Studio, 1960 (Soviet Union)
Breed featured: Pomeranian / German Spitz / American Eskimo?
This Russian romance set in turn-of-the-20th-century Yalta and Moscow is richly filmed and elaborately costumed. If you’re into such bittersweet, melancholic displays of European old world decadence, this is your movie. My eyes were obviously on the dog in the title.
The original story by Anton Chekhov says the woman is accompanied by a white Pomeranian, but the dog in the film seems slightly larger than the toy Poms of today. Perhaps a German Spitz / American Eskimo dog? Regardless of his breed, the dog seems explicitly coded as German in origin, and by extension, marks the human at the other end of the leash in terms of her German husband. The woman’s dog is a constant reminder of the adulterous nature of the two lovers’ affair, and the frivolous, “clipped and wingless life” that both long to escape.