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Trial on the Road (1971)

Proverka na dorogakh (original title)
The Russian POW joins the partisan guerrillas and proves his loyalty fighting the Nazis.



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Cast overview:
Rolan Bykov ...
Ivan Egorovich Lokotkov
Igor Leonidovich Petushkov
Vladimir Zamanskiy ...
Alexander Ivanovich Lazarev
Oleg Borisov ...
Victor Mikhailovich Solomin
Fyodor Odinokov ...
The Old Mine-Layer - Erofeich
Anda Zaice ...
Inga - the partisan-interpreter (as Anda Zaytse)
Gennadi Dyudyayev ...
Dmitry Mit'ka - a young partisan
Mayya Bulgakova ...
An unhopeful woman-villager
The young auxiliary policeman
Viktor Pavlov ...
Kutenko - an auxiliary police watchman
Yuriy Dubrovin ...
Col. Bolshakov - 'lieutenant Genka'
Igor Klass ...
The Partisan-Estonian
N. Pokorsky


Film is set in the winter of 1942 during the Nazi occupation of Russia in WWII. Partisan guerrillas, headed by Ivan Lokotkov, are testing the POW Lazarev, who briefly collaborated with the Nazis for survival. Lazarev is not executed, but instead he is given a chance to prove his loyalty. He has to go back to the Nazi controlled railway station, where everyone knows him, and to hijack a train with food supplies. Lazarev proves himself a hero. Written by Steve Shelokhonov

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Drama | War


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Release Date:

October 1986 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Trial on the Road  »

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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Vladimir Vysotskiy wanted to play Lazarev. Yet the director decided to cast the less celebrity-like Vladimir Zamanskiy. See more »

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User Reviews

A WWII film that is unusual and was banned in the Soviet Union
3 July 2015 | by (Upstate New York) – See all my reviews

The Russian film Proverka na dorogakh was shown in the U.S. as "Trial on the Road (1971)". It was co-written and directed by Aleksey German. An exact English title of this movie is apparently difficult to achieve. On the film itself, the title was translated as "Checkpoint." Other Russian-speaking reviewers mentioned this title problem, and I heard it being discussed in the theater after the movie was over. People feel that "Trial on the Road" doesn't work either. I can't comment further, because I don't speak Russian.

The movie was produced in 1971, but not shown until 1986. It was censored because the official party line in 1971 was that all Russian soldiers--actually, all Russians, soldiers or not--had performed heroically during the German invasion in WWII. This movie is more like an American WWII portrayal of GI's who were ordinary people caught in an extraordinary situation. Sometimes they behaved heroically, and sometimes they didn't. (Think about "Saving Private Ryan.")

In this movie, the protagonist is someone who behaved unheroically. He surrendered to the Germans, and became a collaborator. (Apparently, some POW's could join the German forces.) After having a change of heart, he escapes from the Germans and joins the partisans, in Russia, behind the German lines. Naturally, the partisans are suspicious of him, and the plot of the film hinges on that suspicion and his reaction to it.

In a parallel plot line, the civilians in German-occupied territory are not all sympathetic with the partisans. Like so many conquering forces, the Germans carried out mass reprisals. If the partisans killed a German soldier, the Germans would retaliate by killing and blowing up everything in sight. Naturally, some of the civilians took a "plague on both your houses" position. Their hope was to somehow survive the war, and they were no more sympathetic to the partisans than they were to the Germans.

In my opinion, what made the censors dislike this movie is one of the factors that make this movie great. Naturally, I have to speculate, but my guess is that the real situation in Russia in WWII was closer to what we see in the film than what we see on the propaganda posters.

This film has other positive aspects. The (black and white) cinematography is great, and the acting is excellent. The movie keeps you in suspense throughout, and I could not have predicted the ending. (The last few minutes go beyond the actual ending. They have that added-on propaganda feel to them. This is probably because director German wanted his film to pass the censors. Obviously, this added footage didn't work, at least for the first 15 years.)

We saw the movie on the large screen at the wonderful Dryden Theatre in George Eastman House in Rochester, NY. The staffperson who introduced the movie told us that Eastman House owns the only 35mm print in the U.S. (The print belongs to Martin Scorsese, who stores all the movie prints that he owns at Eastman.) In any case, you'll have to be very lucky--as we were--to see this film in 35mm. Unfortunately, in this context, it's really meant for viewing in a theater. However, it's available on DVD, so at least you can seek it out and view it on the small screen. Director German made only six films. He is a genius, and it would appear that each of his films reflects that genius. My suggestion--find this movie and see it. If you like it, try to see the other five.

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