A veteran Soviet Army major, on a three-week furlough from the 1943 winter offensive, discovers how even the false peace of a remote civilian village can be disturbed by the silent echoes of distant battle. His home in Tashkent is a long way from the smoke and gunfire of the Western Front, but during his leave Major Lopatin sees another, no less emotional war being waged there. He finds it in the bereaved cries of a new widow and in the lies he tells another, urging her to wait for a message that will never arrive; he encounters it in the comically inaccurate film being staged from his published memoirs of the Stalingrad siege; and he tries to escape it for a few, all too brief moments with an attractive seamstress and single mother, abandoned by her wayward husband. Displaying remarkable empathy for his characters and setting, director Alexei Gherman has made a quietly stunning film about an uncommon aspect of modern warfare, intimate in mood and detail despite the expansive clarity of its wide-screen black and white imagery.
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