Askoldov's movie was sat on after initial screenings in 1967 because it dealt with such unpalatable subjects as anti-Semitism and women's rights. The film, although it enters wholeheartedly into its story and is shot with a certain austere flair, has a hard time engaging the audience. The story, set in 1920, is resolutely stern: Clavdia, a Red Army officer, becomes pregnant by a comrade later executed by the Whites. She is billeted with a poor Jewish family until the birth, by which time her intial racial hostility, and their resentment of her haughty attitude, have worn off, and each side recognises the other's common humanity. Askoldov clearly felt passionately about his subject, but The Commissar is a work of promise rather than polish; sadly he was prevented from working again.
Cast and crew