Nobody Wanted to Die

[Никто не хотел умирать]

(1963) USSR

Directed by Vitautas Zalakiavicius

Written by Vitautas Zalakiavicius. Cinematography by Jonas Gritsius. Music by Alimantas Apanavicius. With Regimantas Adomaitis, Via Artmane, Donatas Banionis, and Juozas Budraitis.

In Russian with English subtitles

A farm-set tale of family revenge worthy of Sergio Leone but equally steeped in Baltic rural literature, this Lithuanian drama was close enough to a thriller to become a nationwide hit after being dubbed into Russian. Aside from the commendably "Spaghetti Western" title and an extended, wordless ambush sequence in the middle, the film's genre pleasures include Latvian leading lady Via Artmane, whose feisty presence has something of the young Bardot's. Under the surface, however, the "loaded" setting—the Soviet postwar annexation of Lithuania—provides its own stories of Oedipal confusion and general lawlessness; in a much discussed touch, the film begins and ends with a shot of a wooden roadside Mary.
— Michael Zilberman, "Revolution in the Revolution" film series, NY, Nov. 2000

Vitautas Zalakiavicius (b. 1930) graduated from the All-Union State Filmmaking Institute (Mikhail Chiaureli's workshop) in 1956. A director and a scriptwriter, Zalakiavicius was responsible for creating an original cinematic tradition in Lithuania. Nobody Wanted to Die received several awards, including the State Prize. Zalakiavicius's other films include This Sweet Word-Freedom (1973, set in Latin America), Centauri (1979), and An Unknown Man's Tale (1981, based on Anton Chekhov's stories). In the 1970s Zalakiavicius worked at the Mosfilm Studio and taught scriptwriting at the Advanced Screenwriting Courses.