You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Once at Night

This 1944 Sovfilm was assumed lost until its discovery in an archive last year. Simply mounted but compelling patriotic melodrama should draw a season of bookings on the cinematheque circuit.

This 1944 Sovfilm was assumed lost until its discovery in an archive last year. Simply mounted but compelling patriotic melodrama should draw a season of bookings on the cinematheque circuit.

Kinetic opening montage shows a Red Air Force plane crashing in an Armenian village occupied by Nazi forces. Its three soldiers are secreted in a bombed-out school’s attic by young student Varia, who stays on to clean the facility downstairs for Nazi-headquarters use. One of the wounded men dies, another escapes; Varia risks her life protecting the third. Close has Russian army reclaiming terrain as the soldier who’d gotten away assures traumatized Varia — i.e., Mother Russia — that “you will be avenged. They will pay for everything.”

Film was veteran helmer Boris Barnet’s next-to-last project; he also plays a Nazi collaborator. Despite some odd narrative gaps (and one bizarre sequence in which Varia distracts attention from her hidden comrades by operatically trilling a song, with full orchestral accompaniment), pic effects a visceral edge from location shooting and economical presentation. Depiction of ruthless occupiers is brutal at times. One especially stirring scene takes place in a dark circus arena, where assembled villagers refuse to comply with Nazi demands.

There and elsewhere, director Barnet manages some arresting, shadow-laden imagery. Lead actress Irina Radchenko’s resemblance to Lillian Gish is underlined by her occasionally over-mannered waif histrionics.

The pristine print (discovered by Russian film scholar Naum Kleiman, an honoree at this year’s S.F. fest) arrived late for subtitling; though voiceover translation was provided, dialogue is minimal.

Once at Night

(RUSSIAN -- B&W)

Production: An Erevan Studio production. Directed by Boris Barnet. Screenplay, Fedor Knorre (from his story and play).

Crew: Camera (b&w), Stepan Gevorkyan; production design, S. Safaryan, Y. Erzinkyan, A, Arutchan; sound, Y. Grigoryan. Reviewed at the AMC Kabuki 8, San Francisco, May 2, 1994. (In S.F. Intl. Film Festival.) Running time: 83 MIN.

With: With: Irina Radchenko, Boris Adreiev, Ivan Kaznetsov, Boris Barnet.

More Film

  • Vivien Leigh

    Vivien Leigh Biopic in Works From 'Feud: Betty and Joan' Writers

    This 1944 Sovfilm was assumed lost until its discovery in an archive last year. Simply mounted but compelling patriotic melodrama should draw a season of bookings on the cinematheque circuit. Kinetic opening montage shows a Red Air Force plane crashing in an Armenian village occupied by Nazi forces. Its three soldiers are secreted in a […]

  • Bill Nighy

    Film News Roundup: Bill Nighy, Jack Lowden to Star in Comedy 'Made in Italy'

    This 1944 Sovfilm was assumed lost until its discovery in an archive last year. Simply mounted but compelling patriotic melodrama should draw a season of bookings on the cinematheque circuit. Kinetic opening montage shows a Red Air Force plane crashing in an Armenian village occupied by Nazi forces. Its three soldiers are secreted in a […]

  • Busan: Director Kamila Andini on Balancing

    Busan: Director Kamila Andini on Balancing Motherhood and Filmmaking

    This 1944 Sovfilm was assumed lost until its discovery in an archive last year. Simply mounted but compelling patriotic melodrama should draw a season of bookings on the cinematheque circuit. Kinetic opening montage shows a Red Air Force plane crashing in an Armenian village occupied by Nazi forces. Its three soldiers are secreted in a […]

  • VidAngel logo

    VidAngel Declares Bankruptcy to Put Copyright Fight on Hold

    This 1944 Sovfilm was assumed lost until its discovery in an archive last year. Simply mounted but compelling patriotic melodrama should draw a season of bookings on the cinematheque circuit. Kinetic opening montage shows a Red Air Force plane crashing in an Armenian village occupied by Nazi forces. Its three soldiers are secreted in a […]

  • Morgan Freeman Colin Powell

    Morgan Freeman to Play Colin Powell in Biopic

    This 1944 Sovfilm was assumed lost until its discovery in an archive last year. Simply mounted but compelling patriotic melodrama should draw a season of bookings on the cinematheque circuit. Kinetic opening montage shows a Red Air Force plane crashing in an Armenian village occupied by Nazi forces. Its three soldiers are secreted in a […]

  • Channing Tatum

    Channing Tatum Pulls Sexual Abuse Movie, Cutting Ties With Weinstein Company

    This 1944 Sovfilm was assumed lost until its discovery in an archive last year. Simply mounted but compelling patriotic melodrama should draw a season of bookings on the cinematheque circuit. Kinetic opening montage shows a Red Air Force plane crashing in an Armenian village occupied by Nazi forces. Its three soldiers are secreted in a […]

  • DSCF3404.raf

    Los Angeles Feature Film Production Increases 7.6% in Third Quarter

    This 1944 Sovfilm was assumed lost until its discovery in an archive last year. Simply mounted but compelling patriotic melodrama should draw a season of bookings on the cinematheque circuit. Kinetic opening montage shows a Red Air Force plane crashing in an Armenian village occupied by Nazi forces. Its three soldiers are secreted in a […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content