Archive for February 28th, 2012

by Allan Fish

(USSR 1967 108m) DVD1/2

Aka. The Commissar

The trams will never be running

p  V.Levin, L.Prilutzkaya  d/w  Alexander Askoldov  novel  “In the Town of Berdichev” by Vasily Grossman  ph  Valery Ginsburg  ed  V.Isayeva, N.Loginova, S.Lyashinskaya  m  Alfred Schnittke  art  Sergei Serebrennikov

Nonna Mordyukova (Klavdia Vavilova), Rolan Bykov (Yefim Mahazannik), Raisa Bedashkovskaya (Maria Mahazannik), Lyudmila Volynskaya (grandmother),

He was only a boy of five when he became an effective orphan.  Hard to imagine, having to stand back and watch your mother taken away by officials (and your father, veteran of the eastern front and the Civil War having ‘gone ahead’), and to hear the words “come back for the boy later.”  Credit to the boy for having the gumption to realise that he needed to get out of there, even though it’s not yet dawn and dark outside, and make his way to the house of friends of his parents, where he was hidden.  The family that were Jewish, and years later they themselves were to disappear in the Holocaust. 

            Thirty years later that little boy Alexander was making his first film, so it’s more than understandable what events in his life would influence him.  He took a propagandist story by Vasily Grossman and transformed it into a film which would prove the most incendiary Soviet work of its generation.  It was dismissed, booed, banned and derided upon its first showing, Askoldov himself not only losing his director’s license but being thrown out of the party.  He could so easily have been made to ‘disappear’ himself, but he hung in there, amidst the derision.  (more…)

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