Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Mikhail Romm: Nine Days of One Year - Девять дней одного года (1961)

Nine Days of One Year (1961)

Directed by Mikhail Romm
Written by Mikhail Romm and Daniil Khrabrovitskii.
Cinematography by German Lavrov.
Art direction by Georgii Kolganov.
Music by Dzhon Ter-Tatevosian.
Cast: Aleksei Batalov, Innokentii Smoktunovskii, Tat'iana Lavrova, and Nikolai Plotnikov.

During experiments at an institute for nuclear physics, a young scientist, Gusev, receives a dangerous dose of radiation. At his own risk, he decides to continue the experiments, which could lead to a ground-breaking discovery, but also to his death. The road of scientific prometheanism he has chosen to follow makes him a stranger in his own home and marriage. The existential challenge Gusev faces is compounded by an ethical dilemma of universal significance: what is the meaning of his sacrifice in a world that uses nuclear power for self-extermination?

Nine Days of One Year (1961)
Aleksei Batalov

The film hit the screens in the beginning of 1962 and soon became an emblematic text of the 60s. In it, for the first time in Soviet cinema, the viewer was allowed to enter the fascinating world of nuclear science, a realm hitherto concealed from the eye of the movie camera. The film owed much of its initial appeal to its mise-en-scéne. Most of the footage was shot on location in a research institute for nuclear physics in Siberia. Physicists were, in every respect, the supermen of the 1960s in the Soviet Union, and Romm's film has its own share in their idolization. For a society desperately trying to recover the ideals tarnished in the years of Stalinism, scientific progress offered a much-needed springboard. For Romm, it also offered a new sphere of liminal experience in which human values and ideological positions can be brought into sharp focus and tested for viability.

Nine Days of One Year

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