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"Trial on the Road," Russian film, SIFF

Saturday, May 19, 2012 - 2:30pm to 4:00pm
Harvard Exit

This distinctly Russian war story, shot in black-and-white, takes place in 1942 behind enemy lines. A regiment of partisans captures former Red Army lieutenant Lazarev (Vladimir Zamansky) who is dressed in a German uniform. He’s a Nazi defector and collaborator but now desires to switch back and fight with Russian partisans. The two regiment leaders, Commander Lokotkov (Rolan Bykov) and commissar Petushkov (Anatoly Solonitskin) have opposite approaches to his crime, and test his loyalty to the maximum. Director Alexei Guerman gives us a humane and nail-biting portrait of wartime, set in a snowbound landscape. Mostly unknown to Western audiences, Guerman is widely regarded by Russians as one of their country’s greatest living filmmakers. Trial on the Road is based on the story “Operation Happy New Year!” by Guerman’s father, Yuri Guerman. Shot in 1971, Trial was censored and shelved for 15 years for its “anti-heroic” depiction of Soviet soldiers. This landmark film boldly cuts through popular myths of WWII to show a bitterly ironic battlefield where distinctions like “hero” and “traitor” cease to have real meaning.