Recommended films about war (Russia)

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Recommended films about war (Russia)

Postby MikLosk » Mon May 09, 2005 9:41 am

Since today is the 60th anniversary of the Great Victory day, I've decided to remember great films about war. (BTW, we made a marvellous program about war in Moscow Cinema Museum). Of course, this topic is really hard to cover, that's why I've chosen Soviet cinema. Any answers and additions are welcome!

IVAN'S CHILDHOOD (Andrey Tarkovsky, 1962)
In my opinion the most daring and the most overwhelming anti-war movie ever! Tarkovsky expressionist technique makes you feel (not understand - really feel!) the horros of war; and the breaking of child soul is so obvious and understandable (but both so terrible!) that you will never forget this local tragedy of one kid.

THE CRANES ARE FLYING (Mikhail Kalatozov, 1957)
Almost certainly the most famous Soviet film about war (apparently due to its victory in Cannes) tells very simple but nonetheless really tragic story about the girl whose lover has perished in the war. Acclaimed as one of the best examples of perfect cinematography (great Sergei Urusevsky is maybe at his best here) this movie depicts the main war tragedy - tragedy of the lost love - with incredible honesty.

BALLAD OF A SOLDIER (Grigori Chukhraj, 1959)
Undoubtedly the most heartbreaking movie among the great Soviet series of films about war. The story about a young brave soldier who returns home to see his mother is as simple as eternal. Chukhraj was also a soldier of that war and he put all his emotional experience into this picture. No wonder it turned out to be one of the most impressive films about war.

TWENTY DAYS WITHOUT WAR (Alexei German, 1976)
Filmed on the base of Simonov's novel "From the notes of Lopatin" this movie tells about the war journalist who arrived to the rear town to take part in the shooting of the film based on his screenplay. It's German's first real success: he convincingly depicts rear - the underside of the war. He's also succeded in the researching of the problems of a soldier who has to get used to peaceful life.

COME AND SEE (Elem Klimov, 1985)
One of the most honest and terrible films about WWII. It depicts real brutality (at both sides of barricades) of the war. One of the most covincing attempts to understand origins of the human cruelty.

The list is to be continued...

Re: Recommended films about war (Russia)

Postby A » Mon Jul 18, 2005 10:08 pm

Have seen Ballad of a soldier last month (The criterion edition) and besides a bit too much pathos, the film was a great experience. Totally different than cranes are flying because of its optimistic mood, it made me feel exactly what the director intended, that although we know from the first scenes, that the protagonist has died in the war, the movie shows us his greatness as a human being, and that his life was worth every second of it, even if it had only consisted of the days at leave. And the love story is one of the most beautiful ones I`ve seen on screen, and I`m a sucker for good romance.
Russian cinema at the end of the 50s was really changing in a good direction.
I wonder how Chukhraj`s other films are, as I can`t get hold of them.
Any thoughts Mik?

Re: Recommended films about war (Russia)

Postby hengcs » Mon Jul 18, 2005 10:16 pm

Just wondering,
should Svoi (Our Own) be considered a war movie?

Hi MikLosk,
I recall you having watched the movie too ... but you have not written any comments even in the old
So, care to share it now?

Re: Recommended films about war (Russia)

Postby A » Tue Jul 19, 2005 8:49 pm

Correct me if I'm mistaken, but I think Mik did comment on it on the "old" board very enthusiastically.

Well, I've seen it this year, and I think it's better than the other new russian films I've seen in the last few months, e.g. The Return, Koktebel, Udalionny dostup (don't know english title), not to mention My stepbrother Frankenstein, which was
Very realistic film about World War II, about different kinds of people, and different ways of supporting ones country. Also esthetically very worked out, with fine "washed-out" cinematography, good cutting, and and a very nice slo-mo scene at the beginning
The violence was depicted very realistically, and also the way different people deal with it. At the end a very human film.
Recommended. My initial rating was very high (***1/4 / ****)

Re: Recommended films about war (Russia)

Postby arsaib4 » Tue Jul 19, 2005 9:11 pm

Can you add a few comments on Koktebel. Thanks.

Re: Recommended films about war (Russia)

Postby MikLosk » Wed Jul 20, 2005 8:01 am

A, another great Chukhraj movie is "The Forty-first". But it hardly can be found outside Russia.

hengcs, I promise that I'll write a short comment about Svoi soon, but currently have no time for this. It's really great movie (9/10).

Re: Recommended films about war (Russia)

Postby Sara » Wed Jul 20, 2005 10:36 am

Come and See was a powerful film. I'll never forget the ending with the sound of the Lacrimosa from Mozart's requiem. Beautiful, heartbreaking, and strong.


Re: Recommended films about war (Russia)

Postby trevor826 » Wed Jul 20, 2005 4:28 pm

Have to agree about Come and See - Idi I Smotr, such a harsh honest view of the war in Russia, there are too many outstanding sequences and it puts the sanitized efforts of Hollywood to shame.

Cheers Trev.

Re: Recommended films about war (Russia)

Postby A » Wed Jul 20, 2005 6:27 pm

No problem arsaib4 .
Have seen Koktebel last year in November in a smal russian film festival, and a good German filmcritic/historian gave a little speech about it, where he said, that he wanted Koktebel to have been in the Venice film festival instead of "The Return", but had some problems with "jurors" (or whoever decides this kind of thing) in russia, and he thought it was the best russian film of a "new" filmmaker. Don't remember what he said about it anymore, and sadly I didn't have time after the film to talk with the director who was present, so here are some of my own thoughts.

A slovenian reviewer used the expression (roughly translated) that it is an outstanding example of "didactic films for older children" russia was so famous for in the past, and which have disappeared since the Soviet regime broke down. This is meant in a VERY positive way, and this view describes my experience of the film perfectly.
We have a father son relationship, where the mother is missing, and the father has no job, so both go on a trip through russia to "Koktebel", a town somewhere in the southwest (i think). During their voyage which is on foot, both have several more or less strange encounters with people whom they ask for some food, or a shelter in the night. Some are good, some are bad, most remain ambiguous, and the son gets to learn more and more about the world he lives in. During the yourney which begins to drag on to long Koktebel begin to be some kind of magic words (like the land of OZ), where the son hopes for all problems to be solved, and a normal life with his father (who told him about relatives who live their and will help them). When the two at one point start living with a lonely woman, who begins a relationship with the also lonely father, the son becomes jealous, and the fathers promises of soon moving on become a lie during the months they spend there. So, in the end the son starts alone to continue his journey, and at the end of the film, we will have a very interesting conclusion in Koktebel. I won't tell anything more, so as not to spoil the movie, if you haven't seen it yet. This story and the events that happen, aren't central to the film, but are "only" used as a catalysator to let the viewer see different stages of the father-son relationship. That's really all the film is about, and it gets more difficult to follow and complex, because the film is told from the child's point of view, and there isn't much (significant) dialkogue. Almost every important thing is expressed through glances of the characters, their body-language, the look in their eyes, and through what the camera chooses to show us ,and what not. In this it very much resembles Zvyagintsev's "The Return", and also in the use of symbolism, which isn't as heavy , but no less important. On the technical side we have also some long takes, abrupt cutting, frequent use of ellipses, and lots of irritating and unexplained events (or that's the way they are presented). In some scenes there is even a surrealist touch (you'll remember a radio-scene ).
I can thoroughly recommend it, and it is surely a great experience, if parents watch the film Together! with their children, and afterwards talk about it. I rated it *** / ****

Re: Recommended films about war (Russia)

Postby arsaib4 » Wed Jul 20, 2005 7:32 pm

Thanks a lot, A. Too bad Koktebel didn't make Venice. I liked The Return but overall it's a bit overrated.

Artificial-eye recently released Koktebel in the U.K. so I'm thinking about importing it.


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