Directed by Kira Muratova
Viewed at the San Francisco International Film Festival
Brief Encounters is a time capsule, a magic eye into the river of passions tumbling beneath the bland grey bureaucratic city life of 1960's era Russia. It tells stories of love, and at the same time, in the background, it shows modern soviet communism as it may have really been. The Soviet ruling Party didn't like the film and they banned it and put it on a shelf. There it sat for 20 years. However, the film is not blatantly anti soviet, or anti Communist; one could even argue that the film demonstrates a strength of the Soviet system -- a true grit. But the film is too real -- the glimpse it offers is too accurate a picture and some of the issues it exposes must have touched too close to home for the Communist censors. So I believe this film was banned in Russia because it was too real -- too accurate of a picture into the average middle class Russian existence. For that reason alone, it is worth seeing. The film is not propaganda and it is not blatant political dissonance. It is a wonderful human story which colors this black and white film -- the grey historic backdrop of modern Russia. Notably, Brief Encounters offers a lingering look at a young Vladimir Vyssozki, the Russian folk singer who is now regarded as a Soviet voice of change, much as Bob Dylan is regarded as a voice of change in America.
Reviewed by Eric Wolfram, FilmCities