The Commissar (Komissar) - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Commissar (Komissar) Reviews

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Super Reviewer
April 30, 2018
"The Commissar" is set during the Russian Civil War as Communist troops are setting up shop in a village. Amongst them, Klavdia(Nonna Mordyukova), a commissar, is very, very pregnant. After long periods in combat and on horseback, she was so occupied that by the time she saw a doctor, she was so advanced that one would not perform an abortion and no amount of iodine could do away with it, so her commanding officer(Vasili Shukshin) moves her away from her comrades, housing her with a large Jewish family. At first Yefim(Rolan Bykov) is indignant but once Klavdia's condition becomes clear, his wife Maria(Raisa Nedashkovskaya) does her best to help her.

While eschewing a neorealistic approach by going against the grain with a nontraditional musical score and striking imagery, "The Commissar" is also a powerful look at the role of women in combat. Klavdia sees herself as a soldier first which is in conflict with the need to care for her child.(In "Farscape," female Peacekeepers could control their pregnancies to such a degree that they could give birth quickly with hardly a break before returning to the battlefield.) In America, she would be accused of giving in to her ambitions but then that's capitalism for you. In a socialist state, as imperfect as it is, the need comes from being part of a struggle larger than yourself that a flashforward gives an even greater urgency to.
October 6, 2010
Made in 1967, this movie was not finished and released until 1988, in Finland to boot. Set in the 19020s, the main character, the only female officer in her Red Army unit, finds herself pregnant and thus dumped by her unit to stay with a Jewish family. Her memories and visions are quite disturbing, the games of the children are also quite troubling. The movie is difficult to follow (when one selects English, one does not get subtitles but a Russian translator who speaks over the Russian dialogue with a heavy Russian accent, making this movie quite the listening experience) but worth watching, and even if it is just for the scene where she drinks tea, the birthing scene, and the dance scenes.
March 8, 2010
The fake pogrom scene was particularly moving, but overall I think this film was tugging a little too hard at our heart strings, and while I appreciate what a bold move that was in 1967 in the USSR, now it just feels dated.
December 13, 2009
"Komissar" (filmed in1967, shelved upon completion by the party and released 21 years later in the glasnost era) is an example of suffocated artistic expression when the message didn't go along the party lines. The director (fired and expelled from the party) paid dearly for his convictions and his courage - he would never direct again.
½ December 5, 2009
WEB. Me likey mucho, yes yes.
½ November 26, 2009
Very surreal and artistic. Not a typical Soviet film.
½ October 28, 2009
This is a story of the Russian Civil War. It was made in 1967 for the fiftieth anniversary of the October Revolution, and then was banned by the KGB until 1986, and released 1988. The story of how the movie came to be and how it was released is moving, and so is the plot of the movie. I found myself wondering if the Komissar symbolized mother Russia?

The film is in black and white, but don't let that deter you. The lack of color seemed to enhance the film rather than detract from it.

Watch it in Russian with English subtitles. If you choose "Russian Language," you'll hear the voices of the Russian actors in the original language, and over that you'll hear a male voice with a strong Russian accent reading the script.
½ September 9, 2009
One can only imagine the kind of effort it took to try and shoot something as openly subversive as this in the USSR in 1967. Along with how it came to pass that the film wasn't released until 1988. By historical merits alone, this is a very interesting piece. But I believe that no matter what kind of footnotes a film may have, no matter how many of its flaws they may explain - when a film is born, it becomes an entity all its own and should, at the end of the day, be judged by the same standards as any other. That being said, this one is certainly not flawless. Not only does it feel fragmented, but also rather smug and heavy-handed. Stubbornly forcing its attempts at striking avant-garde symbolism into every nook and cranny. And, as a result, overshadowing some of the comparatively strong performances being given here (namely by Mordyukova herself). As though making a fashion statement rather than answering a genuine creative drive. As though wearing creative, liberal clothing (against all odds) is more important to the film than whether or not these clothes best fit its content. I disagree with this approach. And even though (to be fair) these clothes are worn with enough persistence and zeal that on a few occasions they do manage to create some emotional momentum, I believe that the approach ultimately costs too much. The film feels inorganic,almost (ironic as this may be) propagandistic.
½ February 14, 2008
one of my earliest memories as a kid are snapshots from this movie. that's how memorable it is.
January 28, 2008
Rolan Bykov is my hero. (This movie was finished in 1967 but was far too subversive to be released in the USSR at that time. It took 21 years to release this tale about a tough Red Army commissar forced to live out her pregnancy with a poor, Jewish family. It's a really powerful film.)
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