Commissar | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Perhaps the most striking instance of a suppressed Soviet film thawed out by glasnost, this 1967 first feature by Aleksandr Askoldov was apparently controversial only because it expresses overt sympathy for the Jews who were persecuted during the Russian civil war, and because the lead character is a pregnant woman whose combined characteristics challenged traditional stereotypes. As a first feature, the film is in many respects remarkable, if not an unqualified success. The black-and-white 'Scope images are often clearly influenced by the silent Soviet masters, and the uses of subjective camera are especially striking; but the film's effectiveness as narrative only works intermittently. Still, for anyone with an interest in the subject and in the Soviet cinema, this shouldn't be missed. (Facets Multimedia Center, 1517 W. Fullerton, Friday and Saturday, November 18 and 19, 6:45 and 9:00; Sunday, November 20, 5:00 and 7:30; and Monday through Thursday, November 21 through 24, 6:45 and 9:00; 281-4114)

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