Synopsis by Clarke Fountain
Two medium-length films by first-time directors Larisa Shepitko and Andrei Smirnov were exhibited together under the title Natshalo Nevedomogo Veka in 1987. As separate 38-minute works, they were each completed around 1967 and were kept on the shelf by censors for reasons which are unclear even today. Both were produced by The Moscow Studio for Creative Experiment. The first, Angel, was made by Andrei Smirnov and is based on a short story by Yuri Olesha. It concerns the 1920 journey of a group of refugees fleeing the disruptions of the fighting between the White and Red Russians in the civil war. In the story, when the train runs off the tracks, a group of determined survivors get it running again with a great deal of pluck and daring. When they are captured by the White Russian calling himself "Angel of God," despite their sufferings at his hands, they somehow maintain their dignity. The second, Rodina Elektrichevstva, by Larisa Shepitko, is based on a story by Andrei Platonov. Variety's Yung says of this film: "[it] turns the classic boy-meets-tractor plot into stirring cinema." In it, a mechanically skilled boy transforms a useless old motorcycle into a much-needed irrigation pump, answering the drought-stricken Turkmenistan villagers' prayers briefly. Larisa Shepitko, whose film Voskhozhdeniye (Ascent) won a Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival in 1977, and a number of other awards at lesser festivals, was considered one of the most promising Soviet directors. She died in a car crash in 1979.
motorcycle, refugee, survivor, train [locomotive]