The Life and Extraordinary Adventures of Private Ivan Chonkin


Time Out says

Menzel takes his sly mastery of the 'cinema of Occupation' to Russia for an adaptation of Vladimir Voinovich's (ex-samizdat) mega-hit novel of WWII. In the circumstances, the result is something of a miracle. The director, who has the average Czech's limited Russian vocabulary, marshals his actors very ably. He'd need to since for most of the movie they run around like chickens. His drill sergeant has Chonkin in mind when, quoting Stalin, he lectures, 'The enemy always seeks out the weakest in the chain.' When, however, the hapless, libidinous private (Nazarov) is dumped on the village of Dead End (renamed Red End), the Collective is seen in its eccentric, individualistic disarray as all weak links. Only young, fat-buttocked postmistress Nyura (Buryak), whom Menzel likes to film from the rear, to show it's a broad comedy, no doubt, proves welcoming, in and out of doors. There are some tougher swipes (the frenzy at the shop when invasion is announced, the pornographic interrogation of an old Jewish man by the NKVD), but mostly it's hayseed farce. Well shot, however, and finely acted.

By: WH


Release details

111 mins

Cast and crew

Jirí Menzel
Zdenek Sverák, Vladimir Voinovich
Gennadiy Nazarov
Zoya Buryak
Zinovij Gert
Vladimir Ilyin
Valeriy Dubrovin
Alexei Zharkov
Yuriy Dubrovin
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