Twenty Days Without War

99 minutes 2012

This 1977 drama by Aleksei Guerman takes place at the height of World War II but presents images of combat only at the beginning and the end; most of it concerns a war correspondent's uneventful visit to a small town while on leave from covering the Russian front. The movie is rife with strange narrative elisions: in one early sequence the camera drifts from the hero to consider a random soldier as he speculates that his wife has been unfaithful. Shot in hazy, low-contrast black-and-white, this looks much older than it is, and the eerily precise camera work suggests the perspective of a wandering ghost, a conceit that hints at the Soviet Union's mass civilian casualties. The film is alternately mesmerizing and baffling—you don’t watch it so much as feel your way through it. In Russian with subtitles.

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