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A self-pitying but popular playwright drives to Vladimir to relax with a doting female student and another writer. He's convinced his writing is of no lasting value, but he still has an ego... See full summary »


Gleb Panfilov
5 wins. See more awards »


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Credited cast:
Mikhail Ulyanov ... Kim Yesenin, writer
Inna Churikova ... Sasha Nikolaeva, museum guide
Stanislav Lyubshin ... Gravedigger, dissident, Sasha's friend
Evgeniy Vesnik ... Igor Paschin, writer
Yevgeniya Nechayeva Yevgeniya Nechayeva ... Maria Alexandrovna
Natalya Seleznyova ... Svetlana, Yesenin's disciple
Sergey Nikonenko ... Sinitsyn, policeman
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
V. Asessorova V. Asessorova
Vadim Fedulov Vadim Fedulov ... (as V. Fedulov)
Galina Ilyina ... (as G. Ilyina)
K. Lazarev K. Lazarev
N. Matveyeva N. Matveyeva
Z. Petrova Z. Petrova
P. Roshchina P. Roshchina
S. Titov S. Titov


A self-pitying but popular playwright drives to Vladimir to relax with a doting female student and another writer. He's convinced his writing is of no lasting value, but he still has an ego, about his work and his masculine appeal. He's drawn to a museum guide he sees on his first afternoon, and when she appears at dinner, he tries charm. She reads widely, knows his work, loved it once and now finds it trivial; and she says so. He's stung. The next day, they walk through a cemetery where she talks of a dead peasant's poems and he grabs an idea of hers as the theme for a new play. She remains indifferent; he's baffled. So that night he spies on her. All is revealed. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Drama | Romance


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Soviet Union



Release Date:

October 1986 (Soviet Union) See more »

Also Known As:

Das Thema See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Mosfilm See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



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User Reviews

12 November 2008 | by WeGetItSee all my reviews

First time I saw this film a couple of months ago I liked it, but in recent weeks I've watched it over again and have found it outright genius. This films has one of the best scripts ever. I'll say right now that this film will be a love or hate.

I love the mood, atmosphere, and the location. I think there are to songs used throughout the film, very effectively and just at the perfect times, one is a piece by Shubert (so they say in the film) and the other an instrumental/vocal song probably written for the film. I've never liked a film where the character thinks to himself and we hear his thoughts as much as this one. The writer rambles around the old snowy town, thinking, and we hear his thoughts. This is how the film works: his thoughts are never hidden from us, we hear his voice whatever he may be doing.

Incredibly well calculated cinematography. I love the pacing, the shots, so completely natural and perfect for the story. My favorite scene, like I'm sure many other's, is the 20 minute dinner scene. I can't begin to describe it but the dialogue is so well written, acted and shot. This scene has the funniest and saddest moments, and great characters. BTW, this film has absolutely no credits at the beginning of this film, it jumps straight into the story, I love that. Finally, I'd compare this movie, and i don't like to compare movies, to Bressen's "Diary of a Country Priest" and Tarkovsky's "Nostalghia". In all three film we hear the main character's thoughts. it's much closer to "Nostalghia" because the guy's a writer and because his narration is present tense, where as "Diary.." is retro-spective. Visually TEMA (I like using the Russian name because it's spelled the same in English and Russian T-E-M-A) can't be compared to either film though again the deep depressed existentialist mood is closer to Tarkovsky. Again, love or hate. If you like film where the time flows naturally and character's actions are realistic, and the story itself is honest and deep, if you don't mind a lot of excellent dialogue (say Manoel De Oliviera's "Um Filme Falado/A Talking Picture") and an immersive ride for the main character's odyssey you might like this. This film would be best watched very attentively, without distractions, the sound up, dark room, or simply as comfortably as possible, because it has such deep thoughts. Incredible film, purely. I haven't gone into the story much because I can't say much to make explain it's brilliance, one should just take a chance and seek it out.

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