ILLUZION CINEMA
FOCUS.
THE TRYING AGE
The heroes of the cycle of Soviet youth films of the 1950s–70s were those whom the critics accused of “infantilism” - that is, of the unwillingness to grow up. They clash with fathers and classmates, drop out of school, go through a lot of jobs, treat the assigned tasks irresponsibly, commit ridiculous acts because of love (most often unrequited), they are constantlly eager to leave and go somewhere far far away. Meanwhile, the stages of growing up in the Soviet system are clearly spelled out and prescribed. This is no less than the prescribed route of life.
Strict adherence to the schedule - after finishing school, to take one’s place at a machine tool or in a military formation, to sit at the steering wheel of a tractor, constantly increasing one’s performance, thereby gaining the respect and recognition of the collective - is evidence of full social maturation. It is no coincidence that the certificate of secondary education in the late Stalin era was again, as in the Russian Empire, called the "Certificate of Maturity". It is certified by that same collective. Taking different forms (family, school, work), it is the collective that takes on the educational function.
The plot about resistance to the generally accepted model of growing up was born during the Thaw. A year after the death of Stalin - the man who was the highest embodiment of the collective in the Soviet consciousness - "Certificate of Maturity” (“Problem Child”) was released. In the orphaned country, they made another story about a young proud man who had almost broken away from the masses.
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But the romantic character played by Vasily Lanovoy, with the appearance and in the guise of either Pechorin or the Demon became an audience favorite. He met the hidden expectations of a mass audience.And so the feeling of youthful trust in the world, of merging with it, of waiting for a miracle comes to the fore. That is why the plot is formed by the journey itself, by the impressions of the space that opens wide before them.
The world flooded with light – be it sunlight or moonlight - but each time miraculously transformed by this light - itself becomes, in fact, the central character, as in the film "Journey into April". The hero is quite conventional: he is practically just a “designation” of the camera’s point of view, eagerly absorbing the stream of life.
Here, even the progressive critics of the 1960s begin to complain about the absence of topical social problems. And not only "Journey into April" or "When the Bridges are Raised" - even "I Walk Around Moscow" will not escape reproaches of being too idyllic. And the graceful Lithuanian film "When I Was a Child", which offers a story of growing up as a natural suprasocial change, in the late 1960s will be perceived by critics as an anachronism. By that time, their attention will be captured by the antipode of the "star children" - the "simple guy" from "Three Days of Viktor Chernyshev" with his attitude to life to be "like everyone else".
It turns out that the real growing up of children "not according to the rules", is just as dangerous from the point of view of fathers as real infantilism. No wonder that in the early 1970s the highly dramatic plot of the Georgian film “When Almonds Blossomed” is constructed around a symbolic forgery of a document: the father under-reports the age of his son. A new era is coming, in which there is no place for young people eager to grow up at their own discretion.
And when, in the late 1970s, in the film "Last Chance", Russian cinema unexpectedly, in a single copy, returns to the "scheme of a "hard-to-employ" hero" (as the joke went back in the years of the Thaw), the degeneration of the compulsory educational project becomes extremely clear.

Evgeny Margolit
Viktoria Elizarova
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But the romantic character played by Vasily Lanovoy, with the appearance and in the guise of either Pechorin or the Demon became an audience favorite. He met the hidden expectations of a mass audience.And so the feeling of youthful trust in the world, of merging with it, of waiting for a miracle comes to the fore. That is why the plot is formed by the journey itself, by the impressions of the space that opens wide before them.
The world flooded with light – be it sunlight or moonlight - but each time miraculously transformed by this light - itself becomes, in fact, the central character, as in the film "Journey into April". The hero is quite conventional: he is practically just a “designation” of the camera’s point of view, eagerly absorbing the stream of life.
Here, even the progressive critics of the 1960s begin to complain about the absence of topical social problems. And not only "Journey into April" or "When the Bridges are Raised" - even "I Walk Around Moscow" will not escape reproaches of being too idyllic. And the graceful Lithuanian film "When I Was a Child", which offers a story of growing up as a natural suprasocial change, in the late 1960s will be perceived by critics as an anachronism. By that time, their attention will be captured by the antipode of the "star children" - the "simple guy" from "Three Days of Viktor Chernyshev" with his attitude to life to be "like everyone else".
It turns out that the real growing up of children "not according to the rules", is just as dangerous from the point of view of fathers as real infantilism. No wonder that in the early 1970s the highly dramatic plot of the Georgian film “When Almonds Blossomed” is constructed around a symbolic forgery of a document: the father under-reports the age of his son. A new era is coming, in which there is no place for young people eager to grow up at their own discretion.
And when, in the late 1970s, in the film "Last Chance", Russian cinema unexpectedly, in a single copy, returns to the "scheme of a "hard-to-employ" hero" (as the joke went back in the years of the Thaw), the degeneration of the compulsory educational project becomes extremely clear.

Evgeny Margolit
Viktoria Elizarova
USSR, Gorky Film Studio
1978, 82 minutes
USSR, Moldova Film
1962, 71 minutes
USSR, Mosfilm
1955, 89 minutes
Made on
Tilda