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The Commissar (1967)

Komissar (original title)
Klavdia Vavilova, a Red Army cavalry commissar, is waylaid by an unexpected pregnancy. She stays with a Jewish family to give birth and is softened somewhat by the experience of family life.


Aleksandr Askoldov


Aleksandr Askoldov, Vasiliy Grossman (story "V gorode Berdicheve")

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9 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »


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Credited cast:
Nonna Mordyukova ... Klavdia Vavilova
Rolan Bykov ... Yefim Mahazannik
Raisa Nedashkovskaya ... Maria Mahazannik
Lyudmila Volynskaya Lyudmila Volynskaya ... The Grandmother
Vasiliy Shukshin ... The Commandant
Lyubov Kats Lyubov Kats ... (as Lyuba Kats)
Pavel Levin Pavel Levin ... (as Pavlik Levin)
Dmitri Kleyman Dmitri Kleyman ... (as Dima Kleyman)
Marta Bratkova Marta Bratkova
Igor Fishman Igor Fishman
Sergey Nikonenko
Otar Koberidze
Viktor Shakhov Viktor Shakhov ... (as V. Shakhov)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Leonid Reutov Leonid Reutov ... (as L. Reutov)


Klavdia Vavilova, a Red Army cavalry commissar, is waylaid by an unexpected pregnancy. She stays with a Jewish family to give birth and is softened somewhat by the experience of family life. Written by Erik Gregersen <erik@astro.as.utexas.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | War


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Soviet Union



Release Date:

26 August 1988 (Finland) See more »

Also Known As:

The Commissar See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


In 1986, due to glasnost policies, the Conflict Commission of the Soviet Film-makers Union recommended the re-release of the movie, but Goskino refused to act. After a plea from Aleksandr Askoldov at the Moscow Film Festival, when the dissolution of the Soviet Union was imminent, the film was reconstructed and finally released in 1988. The film is set in Ukraine, and those who know the language will spot the Ukrainisms in Rolan Bykov's lines. See more »


Featured in Women Filmmakers in Russia (1988) See more »

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User Reviews

Great film in the tradition of Russian Cinema
1 November 2008 | by edmontdantesSee all my reviews

I was surprised to hear that "Komissar" was filmed in 1967, a year when the USSR was already firmly past Kruschev's thaw and entering the repressive Brezhnev era, because there is something very "thawish" about this film. The general criticism of war, the dignity of ordinary people during a time of calamities, and the juxtaposition of battles with moments of civilian life, all hearken back to the ideas expressed in "The Cranes are Flying" (1956). As in all Soviet cinema, many of the central ideas are expressed through symbolism. This makes the film somewhat difficult for viewers who are not used to this style, but most people tend to find it refreshing and psychologically stimulating. It certainly prompts more post-film discussions than current American cinema that simply shoves the director's point of view down the audience's throat.

Some of the themes that I found particularly interesting were: the use of the innocence of children to depict the horror of war, the image of saddled horses without riders galloping into battle, and, of course, the father dancing in the midst of a bomb raid. Most of all, I thought that the change in Vavilova - going from a rough, battle hardened Red Army officer to a nurturing mother, is the most poignant aspect of this film. The scene where Vavilova is hunted my soldiers for having a child mimics her own persecution of a man who leaves the army to be with his beloved. The soldiers turn out to be figments of her imagination, but the point is obvious. However, Vavilova's decision in the end of the film (which I will not reveal for fear of getting blacklisted by the IMDb NKVD) is puzzling in light of the changes in her character. I suppose that Askoldov's opinion that a person's nature cannot be changed by one experience is contrary to my own optimism. Still, I find the end to be somewhat unrealistic.

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