The Return of Vasili Bortnikov
Vozvrashcheniye Vasiliya Bortnikova
Originally titled Vozvrachenia Vassilya Bortnikov, Vassili's Return was the last directorial effort by the great V.I. Pudovkin, who died in June of 1953. Like many of Pudovkin's later works, the film was diluted by interference from communist party officials; what remains, however, is well worth having, if miles removed from the brilliance of his earlier Mother, End of St. Petersburg and Storm over Asia. Based on a novel by G. Nikolayeva, the story centers upon a Russian named Vassili (Serge Lukynaov), who leaves his wife to do battle against the Germans in WW II. When Vassili is reported to have been killed in battle, his wife Avodtya (Natalya Medvedeva) marries another man. Per the film's title, Vassili returns, only to find his wife ostensibly out of his reach. Vassili and his former spouse eventually reunite as friends if not lovers, working side by side on a state-approved collective farm.