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At the outset of the War, Alexei,an airman, marries Sasha Lvova, a young factory worker. One day, Alexei does not return from his mission and he is thought to be dead. Some time after the end of hostilities though, he reappears : taken prisoner, he has managed to survive. But everybody besides Sasha rejects him;to make matters worse, he is expelled from the party. Alexei sinks into despair and alcoholism. Fortunately, Stalin dies and his lot improves at last. Written by
Probably the most daring Soviet movie from Khrushchev's "warming" period, directed by Grigori Chukhrai (whose son Pavel made the Oscar-nominated "The Thief.") Of course, such movie was possible only after Stalin's death when Khrushchev in 1956 denounced the "cult of personality" and all of Stalin's purges. This movie deals with exactly that subject. Chukhrai had a hard and very delicate task on his hands because he had to portray the issue while still following the propaganda guide-lines and affirming the righteousness of the whole communist system, so that the movie would actually pass the censors. What he did was create a story seen through the eyes of a young woman who fell in love with a pilot during WWII. Her lover then was captured by the Germans and, after he was able to return home, was imprisoned as a traitor. When he is released during the Khrushchev period, he attempts to deal with the repercussions of his past experiences, trying to start a new life. The movie, naturally, has a very happy, Soviet-style ending, but it manages to show pretty well the dramatic struggle of a man who genuinely loves his country and tries to undestand what he has done wrong, and his lover who stood beside him all along. I wouldn't say that "Chistoye Nebo" is any sort of a masterpiece (although it's kind of hard for me to judge), but it was an extremely important work for its own time period, and still carries a potent historical significance.
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