Twenty Days Without War
June 25, 2012
Guerman’s second film about World War II continues his typically oblique glance at the great events of official history by keeping the war offscreen, as the title implies. Twenty Days Without War takes place during a break from the front during which a soldier journeys to another town. The time is the winter of 1942 and the film’s title refers to the duration of a furlough taken by Soviet Army Major Lopatin (Yuri Nikulin, a celebrated comic actor and circus performer cast against type) to deliver the effects of a fallen comrade to the dead man’s wife in his own hometown of Tashkent. While there, Lopatin reunites briefly with his own ex-wife and begins a tentative courtship of a lonely seamstress working in the costume department on a feature film — a film based on Lopatin’s published wartime memoirs. Above all a film of astonishing intimacy and tenderness, Twenty Days is Guerman’s melancholic tribute to those who remain on the homefront in times of war, and how none of them escape without their own physical and emotional scars.