No Path Through Fire (Gleb Panfilov War Drama) (subtitles)

No Path Through Fire (Gleb Panfilov War Drama) (subtitles)

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Other title: No Crossing Under Fire

A talented girl is trying to find happiness amidst the Russian revolution of 1917 and the civil war that split the nation.

In 1917 Russia is devastated by the revolution and the bloody civil war. Young nurse Tanya is taking care of the wounded. She also makes amateur paintings trying to find happiness amidst the war. But her innocence is gone when she faces death...


An intriguing film set during the Russian Civil War details events of a young nurse travelling on a hospital train tending wounded during the war. We follow her through a budding romance with a young soldier and her eventual discovery of her artistic skills through her association with a painter encountered on the train. Not a fast-moving film, but very interesting in the development of personal relationships and the impact of differing ideologies on them - but it's not boring!


Overshadowed by Bondarchuk's "War and Peace" (released the same year), Gleb Panfilov's "No Path Through Fire" (1967) stars Inna Churikova as Tanya, a young artist and nurse who struggles to survive during the Russian civil war and subsequent revolution.

Shot in moody black and whites, and wonderfully acted by an expressive Churikova, the film's first half watches as our heroine tends to the wounded on board a hospital train. A staunch communist, Tanya later falls in love with a young soldier, their hopeful romance encapsulating a political expectancy which will soon come crumbling down. "The people are suffering," Tanya cries, but the reactionary forces of the White Army advance and the promises of the revolution ultimately wither. She and her lover are devastatingly torn apart, until the film closes on a freeze frame of Tanya's face.

Melodramatic, at times clichéd, at times affecting, the film is at its best when its charting the awakening of a budding artist. Elsewhere it renders the revolution from the perspective of the revisionist 1960s, at once denouncing the "soft" tactics of the Bolsheviks (it ends on a note of Soviet heroism) whilst also being, arguably, sceptical of the "movement" as a whole. The film would make a star of Churikova.

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