Censorship problems prohibited Boris Frumin from completing Oshibki iunosti in the 1970s; by the time perestroika permitted him to do this, Frumin had long since moved to the U.S. But he returned to complete his greatest work.
The Soviet film also known as Wild Oats follows a young conscript upon military discharge, creating an emotionally sweeping portrait of meetings and partings, and a stinging social canvas of corruption and compromise.
Dmitri Gurianov (Stanislav Zhdanko, excellent) is a restless, likeable boy; but whereas the army had given him orders to follow and clear boundaries, he is cast adrift into the world outside. His first stop: home. The reunion with parents—Mitya joyfully lifts his mother off the ground—is especially moving; the burnished colors, however, suggest that his youth must find some more fitting place. Before he leaves for a construction job up north, a remarkable shot finds Mitya and his father, seated, facing one another in featureless profile-silhouette in (I’m guessing) a barn, the open door, right by them, showing the gray blur of outdoors symbolizing Mitya’s aim to get out and the likely mostly featureless life that awaits him.
In Siberia Mitya pairs with Polina; but Polina’s announcement she is pregnant—she had said she was infertile—rips apart the warmth of their relationship. Too young and poor for a family right now, he suggests abortion. In Leningrad he becomes involved with black marketeers and marries Zina, whom he doesn’t love. With all his heart, he had loved Polina. The final shot is of the newlyweds in a dark, narrow corridor down which the camera withdraws, consigning Mitya and Zina (in her bridal gown) to memory.
Throughout, especially at dusk and night, tracking shots of landscape touch and haunt one’s soul.
B(U)Y THE BOOK
MY BOOK, A Short Chronology of World Cinema, IS CURRENTLY AVAILABLE FROM THE SANDS FILMS CINEMA CLUB IN LONDON. USING EITHER OF THE LINKS BELOW, ACCESS THE ADVERTISEMENT FOR THIS BOOK, FROM WHICH YOU CAN ORDER ONE OR MORE COPIES OF IT. THANKS.