It is 1953, Stalin in dead and Beria, head of the secret police, has announced an amnesty/pardon for all convicted criminals but not political prisoners. In a small Siberian trading post, two political prisoners, unaware that Beria himself is now out of favour and they too will soon receive a pardon live on the charity of the poor villagers and by doing odd jobs. The town is invaded by a small band of violent released criminals who shoot the local lawman and rob the villagers and who intend to escape on a motor launch which will soon visit the village. The local officials seem impotent to resist.
Only the two political outcasts, spurred by the attempted rape of a young girl who has been kind to them, decide to resist and one by one they pick of the criminals. This is essentially a Russian Western which reminded me rather of both Andre De Toth's DAY OF THE OUTLAW and Sergio Corbucci's THE GREAT SILENCE (although, ironically, it is the Russian film which is devoid of snow) and it is a pretty good one with some terrific performances by actors whose names I won't even attempt to spell. The setting is as interesting as it is unfamiliar and while it has none of the sophistication or flash that a contemporary Hollywood film might have brought to the subject the direction of Alesandre Proshkin is unobtrusive and one can't help thinking that the film is better off for it.
|Cold Summer of 1953|
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