Synopsis by Mark Deming
Love, patriotism, and betrayal are the themes of this Soviet war drama. Aleksei (Yevgeni Urbansky) is a test pilot with the Russian Air Force during World War II. He meets a woman named Sasha (Nina Drobysheva), and they immediately fall in love. Sasha becomes pregnant, but she doesn't realize it until after Aleksei has been sent back into active duty. While flying a mission over Germany, Aleksei's plane is lost and he is believed dead; he posthumously receives a hero's commendations, and a distraught Sasha refuses to marry another man, preferring to raise her child on her own and live with her memories of the man she loved. But after the end of the war, it is discovered that Aleksei was actually alive and an inmate of a German P.O.W. camp; the Soviet government strips him of his honors, convinced that he surrendered to the Germans and collaborated with the enemy. Aleksei's Communist party membership is also revoked, and he is no longer able to work as a pilot. He sinks into a deep depression and develops a drinking problem, and it's not until the death of Joseph Stalin that the political abuses against Aleksei begin to subside. This film was produced during a brief time in the Khrushchev administration when criticism of the abuse of power under Stalin's leadership was accepted; within two years, Brezhnev had risen to power and this sort of commentary would once again be forbidden.
alcoholism, Communist-party, depression, German [nationality], pilot, political-upheaval, POW/MIA, pregnancy, Russian [nationality], world-war