A carefully paced, though rather plain story.
When a nineteen-year old signalman stationed at the Russian front singlehandedly turns back an enemy tank invasion he is rewarded with a six day pass—just long enough to journey back to his little village and spend a day with his mother. But Alexei’s trek by train, foot, and automobile will turn into an odyssey of sorts as he offers a crippled soldier a new lease on life, eases the mind of a dying father, and pricks the conscience of a wayward wife. In addition, thanks to a number of missed connections, he will also encounter fellow traveler Shura who is on her way to see her injured fiancé and the two of them will fall madly in love only to have fate and circumstance threaten their future happiness. And all the while Alexei’s six day leave is quickly coming to an end and he has yet to reach his village… A fine piece of Soviet agitprop cast with the usual assortment of brave warriors defending the motherland and stoic peasants threshing grain beneath a glorious sky. Unlike other directors of the time however Grigorly Chukhray puts aside the hammer and sickle and fashions a beautifully sad love story instead as two young idealists literally pass in the night. A wistful musical score underlines both love and tragedy alike while Chukrhay’s keen eye pulls off a couple of gorgeous cinematic coups: a battleground comes to resemble one of Dante’s hellish circles; a lone woman runs through an endless field of wheat; and two lovers embrace against an explosion of sunbeams. Perhaps a bit self-conscious at times, and a droning voiceover towards the end needlessly pushes the point, but still a grand old entry from the heyday of Mosfilm Studios.
This is a really good movie. Indeed it's no acting tour de force and I agree with the previous review that the main character was a little bland but that might have been more this older style of film than anything. Taken in the context of its time, and the fact that it's not an excessively propagandistic piece, it's quite a good film. I recommend it.
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