It may be worth asking if there's a corollary between the quality of a film and the number of years it's been banned. Until 1987 only two people outside the Iron Curtain (Tom Luddy and Bernardo Bertolucci) had seen Andrei Konchalovsky's second feature, belatedly hailed (by Michail Gorbachev, no less) as a long lost classic of Soviet cinema. And not without good reason: the film is as fresh today as it must have been when first released in 1966, prompting immediate censorship by daring to depict Soviet citizenry in such an unflattering natural light. It wouldn't be difficult to imagine the Politburo's response to seeing, among other embarrassments, a drunken farmhand urinating on his overheated tractor engine, or a Farm Collective Chairman portrayed by a hunchback (who off screen was, in fact, an actual Farm Collective Chairman). Except for his three primary characters Konchalovsky employs a non-professional cast to illustrate the strong and particular attachment Russians feel toward their land, but the director's sentiments obviously run deeper than the Party Line. He stakes his faith in common humanity, warts and all, and after twenty years in bureaucratic limbo the refreshing honesty of his efforts is a revelation.
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