Cinema: Love in Stalin's Russia

Clear Skies, which took top honors for Russia at the 1961 Moscow Film Festival, will interest Westerners chiefly because it lets the light of day shine on some ideas new to the insular world of Soviet cinema. Director Grigori Chukhrai, who proved his talent with the sensitive, romanticized Ballad of a Soldier, tells a tale of illicit love—and tells it straight, without prudish apologies, against a background of post-World War II political tyranny. The off-screen villain of the piece is Joseph Stalin.

Chukhrai's plucky heroine, Sasha (Nina Drobysheva), left alone during the war,...

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