Kalatozov's war movie, a product of the Khrushchev thaw, was adapted by Viktor Rozov from his own play and won the Palme d'Or at Cannes in 1958. It remains notable for the way its story of a young couple torn apart by war stresses human suffering and waste, rather than the heroic struggle foisted on directors by the Stalinist dictates of 'Socialist Realism'. There is much to admire: the vital performances, notably that of the dark-eyed Tatyana Samojlova as the left-behind Veronika; Sergei Urusevsky's beautifully composed b/w camerawork; the urgent crowd scenes and dynamic mise-en-scène. But Vajnberg's too pointed and occasionally gauche and melodramatic score is unfortunate, given the movie's overall subtlety and emotional restraint.
Cast and crew