“Instead of my decoration, could I go home to see my mother?”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary asserts that “critic Dwight MacDonald correctly criticized this film (in 1960) for making all Russian people and soldiers so lovable” — well, except for that fellow on the train who blackmails Ivashov out of a can of meat:
… but he believes that “the anti-war message is sincerely delivered, and the emphasis on the suffering of those whose husbands and sons are in combat seems correct.” Peary further points out that Chukhrai’s “depiction of women is admirable,” and that he “lovingly films Russia’s landscape and the lovely faces of his actors and actresses.”
I’m in overall agreement with Peary’s review of this simple but touching film, one which humanizes the enemy (Russians) and touches upon the universality of our needs and desires (family, love, connection). Along with The Cranes Are Flying (1957), it provides compelling evidence of a short-lived period of Soviet cinema when creative constraints were temporarily lifted, and remains well worth a look.
Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments: