War and Remembrance: The Films of Aleksei Guerman

Twenty Days Without War

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Twenty Days Without War
Dvadtsat dney bez voyny | Aleksei Guerman, 1976
USSR | Format: 35mm | 101 minutes

After the banning of Trial on the Road, Guerman turned his attention to another WWII story, this time based on the semi-autobiographical writing of acclaimed war poet Konstantin Simonov. The time is the winter of 1942 and the film’s title refers to the duration of a furlough taken by Soviet Army Major Lopatin (Yuri Nikulin, a celebrated comic actor and circus performer cast against type) to deliver the effects of a fallen comrade to the dead man’s wife in his own home town of Tashkent. While he is back on those familiar streets, Lopatin is briefly reunited with his own ex-wife (for whom he still harbors feelings) and begins a tentative courtship of a lonely seamstress working in the costume department on a feature film--a film based on Lopatin’s published wartime memoirs. The movie within the movie offers Guerman ample opportunity to comment on his own position within the Soviet film industry, as an aggrieved Lopatin advocates for greater realism only to be reminded, “We can’t have a film without a heroic act” (an echo of the same argument leveled against Trial on the Road). Above all a film of astonishing intimacy and tenderness, Twenty Days is Guerman’s melancholic tribute to those who remain on the homefront in times of war, and how none of them escape without their own physical and emotional scars. NOT ON DVD.

Series: War and Remembrance: The Films of Aleksei Guerman

Venue: Walter Reade Theater

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