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

  • Les Arcs Film Festival

    Les Arcs European Film Festival's Industry Village Kicks Off with Strong Roster

    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 […]

  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi

    Box Office: 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' Rockets to $215 Million Opening Weekend

    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 […]

  • Disney-Fox Deal Sets Up Scramble for

    Disney-Fox Deal Unleashes Flood of Free-Agent Executives, Talent

    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 […]

  • Anita Hill

    Anita Hill Chairs Hollywood Anti-Sexual Harassment Commission Formed by Top Execs

    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 […]

  • Warren Beatty

    Arnon Milchan Sues Warren Beatty Over 'Rules Don't Apply' Flop

    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 […]

  • Oscar Isaac Addams Family

    Oscar Isaac in Talks to Voice Gomez Addams in Animated 'Addams Family' Movie

    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 […]

  • Jennifer Lawrence

    Publicists for Jennifer Lawrence, Daisy Ridley, Amy Adams Form New Firm

    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