After the banning of Trial on the Road, Guerman turned his attention to another WWII story, this time based on the semi-autobiographical writing of acclaimed war poet Konstantin Simonov. The time is the winter of 1942 and the film’s title refers to the duration of a furlough taken by Soviet Army Major Lopatin (Yuri Nikulin, a celebrated comic actor and circus performer cast against type) to deliver the effects of a fallen comrade to the dead man’s wife in his own home town of Tashkent. While he is back on those familiar streets, Lopatin is briefly reunited with his own ex-wife (for whom he still harbors feelings) and begins a tentative courtship of a lonely seamstress working in the costume department on a feature film—a film based on Lopatin’s published wartime memoirs. The movie within the movie offers Guerman ample opportunity to comment on his own position within the Soviet film industry, as an aggrieved Lopatin advocates for greater realism only to be reminded, “We can’t have a film without a heroic act” (an echo of the same argument leveled against Trial on the Road). Above all a film of astonishing intimacy and tenderness, Twenty Days is Guerman’s melancholic tribute to those who remain on the homefront in times of war, and how none of them escape without their own physical and emotional scars. —Film Society of Lincoln Center
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
Cum poate industria minciunii reanima sufletele celor obosiţi de calamitatea morţii? German reconsideră clişeele filmului sovietic, în care mamele îşi trimit fiii la tăiere fericite şi binecuvântându-i, în care distanţele se parcurg cântând, iar peste moarte se trece printr-un jurământ reînnoit faţă de regim, în care un optimism inuman înlocuieşte o frică firească, iar peste conştiinţa inutilităţii războiului se
aruncă un strat gros de euforie colectivă. Totul pentru ca minciuna de pe ecran să se transforme in minciună existenţială, să dirijeze percepţia şi să arate ca "simţim greşit" atunci când ne e greaţă, ne-am săturat, nu mai vedem rostul. În acest climat de gargară mobilizatoare, indivizii se ciocnesc unii de alţii, continuă să fie adulterini, roşi de afecte contradictorii, rederulându-şi obsesiv vieţile, mişcaţi de alte resorturi decât ar vrea propaganda statală. Probabil aceasta e trăsătura distinctivă a filmelor lui German: în timp ce filmele oficiale de război se preocupă de portretizarea cât mai sălbatică a inamicului din exterior şi de realizarea unei coeziuni sociale cât mai strânse datorită urii comune faţă de acesta, German găseşte loc pentru indivizi şi anxietăţile lor, desprinzându-i dintr-o masă umană niciodată uniformă. Prin aceasta, filmul câştigă în umanitate, dar nu pierde nici din potenţialul său subversiv.
The love of a woman brings out the face of a clown.
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.