One of the most striking Soviet films thawed out by glasnost, this 1967 feature by Aleksandr Askoldov was apparently controversial because it expresses overt sympathy for the Jews who were persecuted during the Russian civil war and because the lead character is a pregnant woman who challenged traditional stereotypes. As a first feature, the film is in many respects remarkable, if not an unqualified success. The black-and-white ‘Scope images are often clearly influenced by the silent Soviet masters, and the use of subjective camera is especially striking, but the film is only intermittently effective as a narrative. Still, anyone with an interest in the subject or in Soviet cinema shouldn’t miss it. In Rusian with subtitles. 108 min. (JR)

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