Early in his career, Russian director Vadim Abdrashitov specialized in intellectual dramas that analyzed the political and moral weaknesses of Soviet bureaucracies. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Abdrashitov focused on how Communism affected the moral lives of ordinary people.
Born in Kharkov, Ukraine, Abdrashitov originally graduated from the the Technical Physics Institute in Moscow in 1967. Shortly thereafter, he became intrigued with film and made a newsreel. Abdrashitov spent three years working in a chemical manufacturing plant and in the early '70s enrolled in Moscow's VGIK film school, where he studied under Mikhail Romm and Lev Kulidzhanov and made two short films. The second film, Abdrashitov's diploma work, was Ostanovite Potapova!, which brought the young director favorable notice. Following graduation in 1974, Abdrashitov was hired by Mosfilm Studio. He made his directorial debut in 1976 with Slovo Dlya Zashchity/A Word for the Defense. A courtroom drama centering on the plight of two women, it won an award from the All Union Film Festival. This and all of Abdrashitov's subsequent films feature scripts written by Alexander Mindadze. Though Abdrashitov and Mindadze dared to critically examine the effects of Soviet politics upon the people, they were careful to present their stories with subtlety and moderation, thereby escaping censorship and persecution. Abdrashitov won a U.S.S.R. State Prize for his fourth film, Ostanovilsya Poyezd (1983).
By mid-decade, the Russian people were becoming increasingly restless under Communist rule and Abdrashitov's films reflected this. His most successful films of this period were Plyumbum Ili Opasnaya Igra (1986) -- which was also his most internationally acclaimed film -- and Sluga (1988). The former criticized the Soviet mindset wherein loyalty to the government transcended all other ties and obligations by recounting the story of a young boy who informs upon his father's "criminal" activities. The second tale centered on a powerful bureaucrat and his driver; the latter becomes a renowned conductor but is still unable to view himself as more than a servant. Abdrashitov's subsequent film efforts, while still well made and intelligent, lack the resonance of these works; perhaps that, too, is a reflection of the times in which they were made.