Jurij Ozerov

Scen.: Tat’jana Sytina. F.: Igor’ Slabnevič. Scgf.: Stalen Volkov. Mus.: Jurij Levitin. Int.: Leonid Charitonov (Andrej Gorjaev), Pëtr Konstantinov (il padre), Varvara Kargašova (la madre), Viktor Geraskin (Vas’ka Kozlov), Vladimir Belokurov (il trapezista), Nadežda Rumjanceva (Tamara), Konstantin Sorokin (Panečkin), Aleksej Gribov (il direttore del circo), Roza Makaronova (Šura), Sergej Kalinin (zio Fedja). Prod.: Mosfil’m · 35mm. Bn.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

Syn exemplifies the influence of postwar Italian film on young Soviet directors of the 1950s who during the early years of the “thaw” ditched studios and Stalinist emphasis to describe everyday life realistically.
“We all wanted to shoot differently”, said Jurij Ozerov, “and sometimes we did… My Syn is our neorealism, our daily life filmed in secret”. The director of photography Igor’ Slabnevič was also of the same mind and was one of the most active advocates of this style. The director related how the main character was filmed in the middle of a crowd on the street: “Slabnevič moved towards him with a handheld camera. And while curious passersby moved in closer, we managed to shoot a few minutes of real life, of reality”.
The simple plot was a kind of ‘Soviet initiation’ (a young man does something ‘antisocial’, he leaves school and his family, undergoes a series of trying experiences and returns to his parents as a mature member of the workforce). What is of note is how the protagonist’s evolution is described. The part was given to a young actor of the Moscow Art Theater, Leonid Charitonov. His character is a young, idealistic rebel unjustly blamed for deeds the noble intentions of which are misunderstood. The boy suffers being isolated from the community. This crucial theme of the film overlaps with a recurring theme of 1950s Soviet cinema: the main character is a victim of the intrigues of unscrupulous people. This is how national film reflected the first attempts at understanding Stalinist repression.
The film’s ambiguity contradicts its schematic and didactic screenplay, characteristic of all Soviet cinema of this period. A voice-over is used for an univocal interpretation of what happens: this technique was a remnant of the previous period and eventually yields to the ‘aesthetics of reality’ which was widespread in 1950s Thaw cinema as demonstrated by the work of Jurij Ozerov. After returning from the front, the director studied at VGIK (All-Russian State University of Cinematography) where he was a pupil of Igor Savčenko, who theorized not about the aesthetics of ‘verisimilitude’ but the expressiveness of film’s form. Ozerov earned official recognition with several blockbusters about the Second World War: Osvoboždenie (Liberation), Soldaty svobody (Soldiers of Freedom), Bitva za Moskvu [Battle of Moscow] and Stalingrad. Syn was to be a brilliant but isolated episode in his career.

Evgenij Margolit

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