Kazakhstan, early 1961. Daniel Pokrovsky, a medical officer, currently works for the first Soviet cosmonauts' troop. There Daniel, already married, finds himself in an incredibly complicated and yet tender relationship with a young girl, called Vera. Later Daniel goes back to Moscow where is in charge of the health of the future cosmonauts. He tries not to be just a doctor for the cadets, but also their friend. He can't agree with the fact that these young men could have to sacrifice their lives for the country. His wife Nina feels the same: she doesn't accept him participating in a project that could put human lives at risk, therefore she keeps asking Daniel to leave his job. Daniel decides to leave his wife. Then one of the cadets dies and the medical officer ends up breaking down. This doesn't stop him from leaving for Kazakhstan in order to prepare the launch of the first man into space. Nina follows him to Kazakhstan, where she learns about his involvement with Vera; however she ... Written by
Venice Film Festival
Paper Soldier-An Alexei German Jr.film which ruins it chances of being a good film due to its scenes of petty talks.
Russian cinema is usually associated with the inevitable theme of war where the depiction of ordinary citizens and their unusual destinies becomes a solid narrative device to reveal strengths and weaknesses of human minds. Bumazhnyy Soldat (Paper Soldier) is one such film directed by Alexei German junior which looks at the lives of some ordinary Russian people who faced tough times both mentally as well as physically before the launch of Soviet Union's first manned space project. The film's title "Paper Soldier" alludes to the fact that a lot of common people had precarious lives due to the morals and conditions which prevailed in Soviet Union of post world war II time when the lives of ordinary citizens did not matter a lot. The focus was more on achieving larger goals for which minor lives did not matter. Hence, it was ethically right that a soldier was considered nothing more than a dummy made up of paper. The film is set around late 1950s or early 1960s but Stalin has not yet been forgotten. In one of the important scenes which occurs twice, an old man is shown trying to sell a big Stalin poster. This is one example of the fact that although Russian people were preparing themselves to be ruled by a different ruler there was still some nostalgia for the glorious days of the past. The film's true strength is revealed in its outdoor shots where human misery is shown in full force. One gets to see desolate people, barren railway tracks, housing project being demolished. However, the pace slackens once the scene shifts indoor when viewers are made to bear witness to endless sessions of petty talks which have very little bearing on the overall narrative trajectory of the film. This is where a weak element of this film is revealed.
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