This is a lovely colorful adaptation of a novel by Anton Chekhov about the adventures of Jegoruska, an eight-year-old Russian boy, in a journey across the "steppe" or open plains of Russia on the en route from his home village to a market city where he is to go to school. It is in a way an allegorical trip which exposes him to some of the grimmest realities of life and some of its better ones. We get a social message as well, for example, the harsh conditions of the peasantry of 19th Century Russia. The director Alberto Lattuada often adapted Russian works or made films with Russian settings as in CUORE DI CANE, THE TEMPEST, and THE OVERCOAT. Most of the location scenes here were shot in Yugoslavia. The cast, which includes Charles Vanel as a priest and Marina Vlady as a countess, are uniformly good. Handsome young Daniele Spallone as the boy is marvelous.