VenueWalter Reade Theater
New 35mm print!
As great an anti-war film as Kubrick’s Paths of Glory, Guerman’s first solo feature provoked such furor in the corridors of government power (for its allegedly anti-heroic depiction of the Soviet involvement in WWII) that it was banned for 15 years, finally earning a proper release in 1986. Inspired by a real case documented by Guerman’s father, Trial on the Road tells the story of Lazarev (the extraordinary Vladimir Zamanskiy), a Junior Sergeant in the Red Army who defected to the Nazis and, as the film begins, has switched sides yet again. His loyalties questioned by all except for a benevolent Commander (Rolan Bykov), Lazarev is forced to prove his patriotism via a series of increasingly perilous missions, climaxing in the nail-biting re-routing of a Nazi supply train that ranks among Guerman’s most dazzling set-pieces. At every turn, Guerman cuts through the popular myths of WWII valor to show us a bitterly ironic battlefield where distinctions like “hero” and “traitor” cease to have and real meaning.