In 1941, a Soviet police officer (Garmash) and his comrade Livshits (Khabensky) are captured by the invading German Army. As they are marched towards prison camps, they manage to escape, along with a Red Army sniper Blinov (Evlanov). Blinov takes them to his family’s farm where they are hidden by his father (Stupka) and his fiancee (Mikhalkova). But Blinov Sr. has entered into an uneasy alliance with the local collaborators, led by police chief Nikolai (Bondarchuk). When the police come looking for the three soldiers, whose side will the father be on?
Meskhiev’s opening scene of German tanks mowing down Russian soldiers and civilians is a shocking, sensory assault that sets the stage for this unsparing depiction of wartime horror. The film settles into a desperate mood of survival at all cost, with the three men constantly forced to assess shifting allegiances. The film’s bleak cinematography accentuates all the struggles and hardship of life in Russia during that tumultuous period, and Stupka gives a heartbreaking performance as a man faced with impossible moral decisions. This intense, powerful feature won five awards at the Russian Oscars- just one more reason to make it your own!