Gleb Panfilov1971-1980DramaUSSR

Gleb Panfilov – Tema AKA The Theme (1979)

A self-pitying but popular playwright drives to Vladimir to relax with a doting female student and another writer. He’s convinced his writing is of no lasting value, but he still has an ego, about his work and his masculine appeal. He’s drawn to a museum guide he sees on his first afternoon, and when she appears at dinner, he tries charm. She reads widely, knows his work, loved it once and now finds it trivial; and she says so. He’s stung. The next day, they walk through a cemetery where she talks of a dead peasant’s poems and he grabs an idea of hers as the theme for a new play. She remains indifferent; he’s baffled. So that night he spies on her. All is revealed.

Gleb Panfilov, one of the Soviet Union’s most innovative directors, wrapped that film, Tema (the theme), in 1979. It had been previously approved and funded by Goskino, the state film agency, but after it went to Goskino for review, months passed with no news. Panfilov and his friends began to press officials for an explanation. “I was never given any comprehensible answer,” says the softspoken director. “Only once did I receive a reasonable reply. One official told me he had watched it twice and thought it was very good, although shocking. ‘Your film is very emotional,’ he said. ‘Therefore we cannot release it. You must wait.’ “

He waited seven years. Then last June Panfilov was summoned to the movie distribution agency. “They said that the film was being released and wanted to discuss what month would be suitable and what kind of advertisements should appear,” he says. “It was as if nothing had happened.”

1.13GB | 1h 33m | 640×480 | mkv


One Comment

  1. According to Wikipedia ( and AllMovies (, although the movie was made in 1979, the version released in the USSR was heavily censored. It was not until 1986 that the original version was released, first in the USSR and then in 1987 at the Berlin Film Festival (where it won the Golden Bear). The (presumably uncensored version) run time is listed in the Wikipedia article as 99 minutes. On IMDB’s “release date” page ( it lists 1979 as a “limited” release and 1986 as the general release in the USSR. Allmovies, which simply lists the movie, and on the front page for the movie lists the runtime as 1 hr 39 minutes. AllMovies (above) simply lists the movie’s date as 1997 and has the runtime as 94 minutes. The runtime of the film here is 1 hr 33 min 17 sec.

    Does anyone know if this is the censored version with limited distributionin 1979 or the full version first shown in 1988?

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