Friday, 22 July 2011

Mikhail Romm: Girl No. 217 - Человек №217 (1944)

Director: Mikhail Romm
Stars: Yelena Kuzmina, Vladimir Balashov,Tatyana Barysheva

1946: Cannes: Nominated for Palme d´Or (Golden Palm)

Girl No. 217 may well be the best effort of Russian writer/director Mikhail Romm, who usually turned out dull, unimaginative communist propaganda films. This disturbingly realistic drama concerns a Russian peasant girl named Tanya (Yelena Kuzmina) who, upon being captured by the Nazis in the early stages of WWII, is forced into slave labor. Sold to a bourgeois German family, Tanya is treated abominably, her physical and mental well-being methodically worn down by her insensitive new "owners." She is even robbed of her identity and forced to answer only to the name "No. 217." A series of subplots demonstrate the various indignities and atrocities heaped upon other Nazi POWs, but it is the plight of Tanya that lingers in the viewer's memory.

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