Zastava Iliycha (Ilych’s Gate). 1962. USSR. Directed by Marlen Khutsiev. Screenplay by Khutsiev, Gennady Shpalikov. With Valentin Popov, Nikolay Gubenko, Stanislav Lyubshin. In Russian; English subtitles. 197 min.
Infamously condemned by Khrushchev for sowing “discord in the friendly Soviet family,” Illych’s Gate was severely reedited after its brief release in 1962, and rereleased two years later to little fanfare under the title I Am Twenty. Seen and compared today, however, Illych’s Gate and I Am Twenty are undeniable masterpieces of 1960s cinema. Illych’s Gate remained buried for nearly a half century, its restoration only taking place after perestroika. Khutsiev’s anguished, introspective, and vitally contemporary meditation on two lost generations—the fathers who died heroically on the battlefield in the 1940s and the sons they left behind—was attacked for violating the sacred and foundational Soviet moral code of the Great Family.