This distinctly Russian war story, shot in black-and-white, takes place in 1942 behind enemy lines. A regiment of partisans captures former Red Army lieutenant Lazarev (Vladimir Zamansky) who is dressed in a German uniform. He’s a Nazi defector and collaborator but now desires to switch back and fight with Russian partisans. The two regiment leaders, Commander Lokotkov (Rolan Bykov) and commissar Petushkov (Anatoly Solonitskin) have opposite approaches to his crime, and test his loyalty to the maximum. Director Alexei Guerman gives us a humane and nail-biting portrait of wartime, set in a snowbound landscape. Mostly unknown to Western audiences, Guerman is widely regarded by Russians as one of their country’s greatest living filmmakers. Trial on the Road is based on the story “Operation Happy New Year!” by Guerman’s father, Yuri Guerman. Shot in 1971, Trial was censored and shelved for 15 years for its “anti-heroic” depiction of Soviet soldiers. This landmark film boldly cuts through popular myths of WWII to show a bitterly ironic battlefield where distinctions like “hero” and “traitor” cease to have real meaning. —SIFF
Aleksei Yuryevich German (in Russian: Алексей Юрьевич Герман) (born on June 20, 1938) is a Soviet and Russian filmmaker, most active as a director and screenwriter. His last name is pronounced with a hard “g” and in English is frequently spelled Guerman or Gherman to avoid confusion.
Almost all of German’s films have been set during the Stalin era and have shown the time period in a critical light. His films, shot mostly in black and white or very muted color, have a distinctive “murky” look and are often described as looking “aged.”
His son, a film director, is also named Aleksei German.
German was born in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg, Russia) in 1938; his father was the writer Yuri German. He studied under Grigori Kozintsev until 1960, and then moved on to working in theatre before joining the Lenfilm studio as an assistant director. He made his directing debut with Sedmoy Sputnik, co-directed with Grigory Aronov in 1967. Over the course of his career, many of… read more
one of the most complex cinematic experiences i had in yrs.no surprise it was banned.a bigger surprise it was unbanned at all. the abyssal man of tolstoy meets the tainting shadows of ibsen,mining the myth of the monolithical,uniform world of homo sovieticus. going against stalinist dogmas that sent all soviet prisoners to siberia on account of their impossibility of reabilitation and fundamental inhumanity.shocking!
War and Remembrance: The Films of Aleksei Guerman is “among the most important retrospectives in years.”
The Russian maverick has passed away at 74. From our archives, coverage of his 2012 NYC retrospective.