Spring on Zarechnaya Street (1956) d. Khutsiev and Mirroner
Spring on Zarechnaya Street (1956) is a romance following Tatyana, a new Russian literature professor teaching night school to workers, and Sasha Savchenko, a common factory worker that takes a liking to his teacher. Tatyana Sergeyevna precedes the Veronica character in The Cranes are Flying (1957), as they both reclaim the femininity that had been denied to women in socialist realism. The film is part of the Khrushchev Thaw, a period declaring Stalinism illegitimate and restoring the mitigation of Leninism. Cinema during the Khrushchev Thaw privileged the everyday Soviet, rather than the romanticized historical epics that categorized Late Stalinism. Directors Khutsiev and Mirroner literally portray the thaw on screen in the seasonal transition between winter and spring as we hold on puddles of melted ice.
While the out of sync audio in the YouTube version compromised the viewing experience and the moment of Sasha's embarrassment in the classroom was lost, as the paragraph on the blackboard is not translated, nevertheless Spring on Zarechnaya Street contains astonishing instances of cinematic beauty. As Sasha arrives at Tatyana's for tutoring, the two are staged facing each other in the frame but are separated on opposite planes. Khutsiev and Mirroner hold on the shot as the piano concert plays over the radio and the audience is able to grasp Sasha's longing for Tatyana. Several images stand out, such as the shallow focus close-up of Tatyana at the end of the dance as the out of focus couples hypnotically spiral around her face and the extreme long shot of Tatyana visiting the factory where she is entangled in the shadows of the overhead cables. The conclusion of the film is handled with remarkable elegance as Sasha opens the window into Tatyana's room causing a gust of wind to make a blizzard of Tatyana's papers.
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