|Index||3 reviews in total|
Moscow, the Soviet Union. Summer of 1956 - eleven years after Hitler Nazis were defeated and buried. Four red army veterans met again at another comrade's funeral. Aleksei, a writer. Viktor, a factory boss. Nikolai, an accountant. And Ivan, a mechanic. All graying and coping with post war life as best as they could. After the funeral, Nikolai invited his friends to go to his place. They experienced quite a few unexpected adventures on their way, including a bit of time in police custody...and ended up getting another comrade involved in the unplanned reunion. Reference of Belorusskiy Railway Station doesn't happen until the last minute of the film. That's where the victorious soldiers returned from war in the Spring of 1945. All actors were the age of real WWII veterans. The film was shot in 1969, so they appeared to be a bit older than their characters supposed to be. But they gave top notch performance. All four leading male actors are dead now, none of them reached the age 70. Aleksei Glazyrin who played Viktor passed away no long after the movie was released.
This film is about war veterans, how Russian life wears them out much
too quickly and their attempts to cope with it, sticking to memories
and old friendship. (Not to mention drinking vast quantities of vodka
but that's something to be expected.)
After the enormous accomplishment of winning the war against a very determined and better prepared enemy, Russians finally lost the peace - - this is something we all know by now. But in 1971 it was not foreseen by most people, so this is quite surprising to see, how clearly "Belorussian Railway Station" knew and has shown it all. It depicts quite clearly, how doomed the Soviet economy was, due to the unbelievable levels of incompetence among leaders (big and small) and a very inflexible bureaucracy, powers even war heroes could not overcome.
Well, this is old news and "Vokzal" is very slow, even by 1970s standard. But if you have the necessary patience and you can enjoy a theatrical play, it is worth seeing once for the great acting. All the five protagonists are very good, although Safonov is strangely underused. (The other three males are characterized in detail, therefore I feel he should have been, too. I really wonder why his personal background is missing, was that part censored or simply cut out because the film turned out to be too long?) Leonov is clearly the best, as usual, and Nina Urgant managed to be unforgettable, lovely and very authentic, although her role was kind of auxiliary, her character less elaborate than the others.
The film missed, in my opinion, some opportunities: more Okudzhava songs, for example. (He wrote some great ones about soldiers not finding their places in peace.) And there is a view, a dangerous tunnel with rotting pipes under a peacefully sleeping housing estate, that could have been much more memorable, highly symbolic and maybe even one of the great moments of cinema, if cinematography would have been great and not only adequate.
I've heard few good words about this movie. Finally I was able to sea it on Russian TV yesterday. I think the story is quite interesting - few veterans of WW II meet at the funeral of their comrade and fellow veteran. I would say there is several fine things about "Vokzal" - very good actors, nice cinematography, good music ... , but in my opinion is too nostalgic sometimes, quite overdone. The last part when they all sleep in one room, in small apartment is certainly overdone, although it gives us good idea about living conditions in USSR in early 1970s. There are several better Russian/Soviet films about WW II ("The cranes are flying", "Ballad of a soldier", etc.). The best of "Vokzal" is Bulat Okhudzava song "Nam nushna odna pobeda".
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