The Case of Polynin: Soviet Romance-Drama

The Case of Polynin (Случай с Полыниным, 1970) directed by Alexey Sakharov (Алексей Сахаров) is a romance drama film set during WWII. It is more a romance than a war drama, with few action scenes and what seems like archival footage at times.

I love the cinematography and framing of the scenes. The film often features close shots of the actors and actresses faces sometimes panning, making you feel like you are there in person looking around. At other times it shows beautiful scenes of the snowy Russian countryside.

Something about the style of the camera work reminded me of one of my favorite Soviet Russian films The Girls which you can read about here. It was also in black and white and had beautiful framing of the snowy outdoors scenes.

This is the description from the film studio Mosfilm:

“Based on the novel of the same name by K. Simonov. A touching, full of aching sadness, love story of the commander of the aviation regiment Polynin and the frontline actress Galina Prokofieva. He heard her songs and his life changed forever.…”

Galina Prokofiev (Галина Прокофьева) plays the role of an actress from Moscow who goes to the front line to boost morale by singing and performing stage plays for the soldiers.

This reminds me of Vera Lynn ( 1917 – 2020) who is one of my favorite singers from the past. She too went to the front line and performed to boost morale while the allies killed the German Nazis.

One of my favorite songs by hers is Those Were the Days which is actually a famous Russian song called Dorogoi Dlinnoyu (Дорогой Длинною) which is often translated as By the Long Road. You can hear the song here.

As I watched the movie and the scenes where Galina performed, I pictured the different dancers and singers on both sides of the war supporting their soldiers.

The music for the film was simple and beautiful. It is a great example of how well a simple score used throughout the movie can work, and that a score doesn’t to be busy or have too much variety. It has a haunting quality. It’s beautiful, simple, somber and comes and goes throughout the film.

I love watching these films that feature log wood cabins in the snow. One day I would like to live in one just to experience it. In many of the scenes when they are indoors you can hear the wind whistling and bellowing outside.

Like a lot of Soviet cinema, it tried to encourage positive values. And in this film Galina says at one point:

It’s only now, for the first time in my life that I do something really important. Not for myself, but for everyone

There is also a scene were Galina walks past a sign for a bomb shelter. Russia had many of these and prepared well for the war. Many countries like South Africa don’t have in any of the cities that I know of that the public can use in a state of emergency – not like Russia and some countries on Europe where each city or town had their own.

In the film there is a brief mention of Optimistic Tragedy (Оптимистическая трагедия) which is a play written by Vsevolod Vishnevsky (Всеволод Вишневский) in 1933, dedicated to the 15th anniversary of the Red Army. It was also adapted into a film with the same title Optimistic Tragedy (Оптимистическая трагедия) in 1963.

The first song Flask (Фляга) is about honoring the soldiers that passed away and remembering them, laying them down to rest.

The second song In the Dugout (В землянке) is about a soldier in a dark dugout writing to his love remembering how bright the world and how after defeating the Nazi he his wife and will around in the light of the lanterns until dawn.

They are both tender songs with an air of respect.

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