The Young Guard
, 189min, russOmeU
Sergej Gerasimov, a giant of Soviet cinema, is the man who lent his name to the oldest and legendary Moscow film school VGIK, today called the Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography. And MOLODAYA GVARDIYA is – along with Gerasimov’s epic 1958 version of Sholokhov’s TIKHIY DON (AND QUIET FLOWS THE DON) – the main reason why Gerasimov’s name was given such immortal honor. Based on the eponymous novel by Alexander Fadeyev, whose personal partisan experiences go all the way back to the 1917 Russian Revolution and resultant Civil War, this Stalin Prize-winning epic tells a tale of Komsomol youth in Krasnodon, who form an underground partisan organization called the Young Guard and proceed with a series of covert operations against the occupying Germans. They illegally print and spread antifascist leaflets, hang Soviet flags, destroy German property, and even liberate a group of Red Army prisoners. This true story ends with their arrest and ceremonial execution, but their spirit still lives on in the hearts of all the Little Octobrists, Young Pioneers, and Komsomolets of today. Despite resorting to a markedly solemn directorial style, Gerasimov nevertheless achieved poignant levels of authenticity by shooting at real, historical locations and by insisting that his young cast spend time with the friends and relatives of the members of the executed Young Guard. Immensely popular at the time of its release, MOLODAYA GVARDIYA was seen by almost 50 million Soviets and remains a beloved monument to the resistance.