Thursday, 24 April 2014
Seventeen Moments of Spring 
The immensely popular 12-part 14-hour long Soviet miniseries Seventeen Moments of Spring, adapted from Yulian Samyonov’s novel, chronicled a dangerous espionage mission during the final days of WWII. Tense, brooding, melancholic and filled with documentary realism, it deftly captured the fatigue, hazards, existential dilemmas and growing weariness that such a job entails. The tale’s protagonist is Soviet spy (Vyacheslav Tikhonov) working deep undercover in a reasonably powerful position and with the false identity of Stirlitz in the Nazi establishment, in the Himmler-led SS, and his mission is to foil the clandestine peace negotiations between a German faction and the Americans. Over the next 17 days, he must gauge the veracity of the suspicion, determine who’s leading the process from Germany and hamper it through a complex combination of tactical moves, shrewd engagement with multifarious powerful and wily colleagues in the Third Reich while being a few steps ahead of them, wit, ingenuity, presence of mind, dare and covering of tracks. He must outwit the likes of Head of Foreign Intelligence Walter Schellenberg (Oleg Tabakov), Chief of Gestapo Heinrich Müller (Leonid Bronevoy) and Hitler’s closest aide Martin Bormann (Yuri Vizbor), employ the services of those with access to foreign channels, and also save his beautiful married undercover comrade (Yekaterina Gradova) who he secretly loves. The proceedings were interspersed with actual footages of war and devastation that added to its gritty tone, while the elegiac score and quieter moments marvelously underscored the melancholia and loneliness. Tikhonov, who reminded me of Burton in The Spy who Came in from the Cold, brilliantly portrayed the implacable, chain-smoking and hard-drinking Stirlitz, and he received terrific support in particular from Bronevoy and Tabakov.
Director: Tatyana Lioznova
Genre: Thriller/Spy Thriller/Political Thriller/Psychological Drama/Mini-Series
Country: Russia (erstwhile Soviet Union)