No Path Through the Fire

[В огне брода нет]

(1967) USSR

Directed by Gleb Panfilov

Written by Evgenii Gabrilovich and Gleb Panfilov. Cinematography by Dmitrii Dolinin. Music by Vadim Bibergan. With Inna Churikova, Anatolii Solonitsyn, Mikhail Gluzskii, and Maia Bulgakova.

In Russian with English subtitles

[Panfilov's] heroine is a talented, naive painter working on a medical train during the civil war of 1918. Her intuitive style is criticized by a commissar, clearly prefiguring the imposition of an academic realism in the Thirties, but when both of them are captured by the counter-revolutionary Whites and she has a chance to escape, she chooses ideological solidarity and death instead. For Sixties Russian audiences, there would have been a distinct echo of Khrushchev's notorious intervention into art criticism, when he attacked an exhibition of modernist work in 1962. But just as the main victim of that attack, Ernst Neizvestny, would eventually sculpt Khrushchev's tomb as a mark of respect, so Tanya, the budding artist of 1918, is not portrayed simplistically as a Western-style rebel or misunderstood genius. Behind the film's apparently conformist parable of submission to the Party and self-sacrifice, she also has a new dignity as a woman and an artist who has chosen.
—Ian Christie, Film Comment Nov/Dec 2000

Gleb Panfilov was born in the Siberian city of Magnitogorsk in 1934. After working as a engineer, he studied cinematography at the All-Union State Filmmaking Institute (VGIK) from 1960 to 1963, and directing at the Advanced Directing and Screenwriting Courses (Moscow) 1965-67. Panfilov writes most of his own scripts, and has directed stage productions (e.g., Hamlet, Moscow 1977). His other films include Debut (1970), Theme (1979), Valentina (1981), Vassa (1983), and Mother (1990). His most recent film is The Romanovs (2000).