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as Klavdia Vavilova
as Yefim Mahazannik
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"The Commissar" is set during the Russian Civil War as Communist troops are setting up shop in a village. Amongst them, Klavdia(Nonna Mordyukova), a commissar, is very, very pregnant. After long periods in combat and on horseback, she was so occupied that by the time she saw a doctor, she was so advanced that one would not perform an abortion and no amount of iodine could do away with it, so her commanding officer(Vasili Shukshin) moves her away from her comrades, housing her with a large Jewish family. At first Yefim(Rolan Bykov) is indignant but once Klavdia's condition becomes clear, his wife Maria(Raisa Nedashkovskaya) does her best to help her.
While eschewing a neorealistic approach by going against the grain with a nontraditional musical score and striking imagery, "The Commissar" is also a powerful look at the role of women in combat. Klavdia sees herself as a soldier first which is in conflict with the need to care for her child.(In "Farscape," female Peacekeepers could control their pregnancies to such a degree that they could give birth quickly with hardly a break before returning to the battlefield.) In America, she would be accused of giving in to her ambitions but then that's capitalism for you. In a socialist state, as imperfect as it is, the need comes from being part of a struggle larger than yourself that a flashforward gives an even greater urgency to.
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