Wartime Romance / Viiskovo-polovyi roman
Nikolai Burliaev, Natalia Andrieichenko, Irina Churikova, Katia Yudina, Zinovii Gerdt
Ukrainian SSR, Odessa Film Studio
On the frontlines of the Second World War, a private falls in love with a nurse that is dating the commander. This tender feeling is rekindled as he recognizes her laughter in the crowd of the post-war city. She is raising a daughter and making money through selling pies, and he is now a married motion picture operator.
Director Petro Todorovsky refrains from the literal demonstration of war – the audience sees the most dramatic events and the war itself only in the reflections on the faces and fates of people, as well as on the film reels that the protagonist plays from his control room. This chamber theatre of incredible persuasiveness and emotional tension is completely devoid of heroism and pathos, and is based on real events and memories of the director himself.
Like the main hero, Todorovsky experienced the Second World War firsthand. The episode with pies and numerous military flashbacks came from his real life. The story in its entirety was quite personal for Todorovsky. Having played one of the leading roles in his friend Marlen Khutsiev’s film It Was in May, Todorovsky planned to perform the leading role in Wartime Romance, but decided to entrust it to the actor Nikolai Burlyaev.
Wartime Romance is the first and only Ukrainian Soviet film nominated for the Academy Award. In 1984, the film was entered in the main competition of the Berlin Film Festival, where Irina Churikova—the actress who played the leading female role—received the “Silver Bear” for the best actress performance. In the USSR, the film became one of the leaders of the box office – it was viewed by more than 15 million viewers.