The Story of the Flaming Years
(Povestj plamennykh let)
Mykola Vinhranovskyi, Svetlana Zhgun, Boris Andreyev, Antonina Bogdanova,
“All my life I walked on seeds,” recalls the soldier Ivan Orlyukov, setting the elegiac tone for this tribute to the Ukrainian peasants’ struggle against the Nazi invaders, adapted from a script by Oleksandr Dovzhenko. Ivan is the ultimate patriotic hero—he is Ukraine; he saves himself. But Yuliya Solntseva, in the spirit of Earth, transcends polemics with poetry: just as Dovzhenko persistently interpreted both the Revolution and the war in terms of Ukraine, so she brings every image, every idea back to the human, the personal. She does so through extraordinary montage sequences and double and triple superimpositions. A soldier in silhouette walks on moonlit water; the door of a hut opens to an unknown world of horror; a girl returns from enslavement to find that her soldier boyfriend has become a statue; a love sequence has such an ethereal otherness as to make the Surrealists weep. “That was war,” we are told in the end, “this is life.” That was life, we might add, this is cinema. Solntseva received the Best Director Award at Cannes Film Festival in 1961 for The Story of the Flaming Years, the first win for a woman director.
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