The Commissar

12 October, 2017, 2:30pm

film still from The Commissar, Aleksandr Askoldov, 1967.

Aleksandr Askoldov, USSR, 1967, 100 minutes.

Shot to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Revolution, this Russian Civil War (1918-1922) drama sees a pregnant female cavalry commissar billetted with a reluctant Jewish family; they bond as the front line comes closer and closer. The soundtrack includes music by the great Russian composer Alfred Schnittke.

This film is second in the series:
Russian Revolutions
Curated by Ron Foley MacDonald and Yuri Leving
2017 is the centennial of the Russian Revolution. Back then there were two—February and October—but since then, there seems to have been more: 1989 in particular when the Berlin Wall fell, and 1991 when the Soviet Union dissolved. In this five part series, we will let history span from 1917 to now, with a live music performance accompanying Eisenstein’s first film, Strike, from 1924, to showings of Tarkovsky’s 1974 film The Mirror and Sokurov’s 2002 single-shot masterpiece Russian Ark. Also included are the suppressed 1967 film by Aleksandr Askoldov, The Commissar, released finally in 1988 and winner of that year’s Golden Bear at Berlin, and Andrey Zvyagintsev’s 2014 landmark film Leviathan.
The screenings of The Commissar and Leviathan are presented as part of Dalhousie Professor Yuri Leving’s Russian and Film classes and will be followed by discussions about the films. All five screenings are free and open to the public.