Jump to content
The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Quiet Flows the Don Soivet era film

John Gilinsky

Recommended Posts


The above link is to a Youtube Part 1 of the Moscow, 1957 colour movie of the famous Soviet novel "Quiet Flows the Don" The movie focuses on the lives and hardships of common people especially Cossacks and how the war and Civil War impacted on their lives.



Just a further quick note after watching several of the latter episodes: Part 8 has a pretty good if not excellent depicition of Russian field command "incompetence" (per Soviet view of course! circa 1959) and a very good if not excellent depiction of a Don Cossack mounted attack on retreating Austro-Hungarian troops in Galicia (Roman Catholic cemetery is shown as is a town that the Cossacks gallop into). Moreover, the overall production of this film stands up to anything that Hollywood produced at the time or since. Good script, acting, cinematography and direction make this a very good must see recommended film.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 7 months later...

Since the above original post to this thread I have examined the following currently viewable YouTube parts for this movie and furnish the following plot synopsis below that cover the WWI era specifically July 1914 to late fall of 1917, viz.:

“And Quiet Flows the Don” 1957 – 1958 released in the Soviet Union; 1960 in the USA. Soviet era movie based on famous early Soviet novel published serially between 1928 to 1940 being awarded the Stalin Prize in 1941 by Mikhail Alexsandrovich Sholokhov who also received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1965. The first half of the English translation of this work first appeared in 1934. A broad sweeping film epic lasting over 5.5 hours. The novel is often compared to Tolstoy’s War and Peace or Dr. Zhivago. A fascinating social-psychological study of how world and national events impact on a distinctive culture, region and locality in this case a particular Don Cossack village and a couple of feuding families. Regarding this last aspect one can use such films as "A Very Long Engagement" to compare western European with eastern European impacts of the war on families, intra-family relationships, marriage, social-sexual mores, friendship, etc....

Grigori Panteleevich Melehkov is the name of both the novel and film's protoganist and hero who is a reliable and good young Cossack soldier. He feels he must side with reservations with the Don Cossacks who are anti-Bolshevik as due to war weariness which we witness him express openly in the film in the 1916 segments, his longing for his family and village life and general way of life of the Don Cossacks including the influences of the village elders and his own family members. He does feel empathy for some of the Bolshevik ideas such as the "will of the people" that some of the Bolshevik Cossack representatives express but his upringing that is his cultural influences appear to prevail. A fascinating film that is important in representing cinematically how the war impacted on individuals.


IgorRusland has posted most if not nearly all of the movie in “3 volumes”

Part or Volume I, Part 1


Volume I, Part 7 commences with July 18, 1914 – It shows the arrest and taking away to presumed imprisonment of a possible revolutionary agitator or a village who at least has and possibly distributes anti-government literature.


Volume I, Part 8 shows the alarm delivered on the steppe, the departure via rail for the war, the arrogance of a field officer to his subordinates to typify of course the stupid decadence by blind ignorance of senior officers who represent the equivalent of the old czarist regime, and a successful Cossack cavalry charge against Austro-Hungarian infantry partially entrenched who are routed and a small town previously held by the Austro-Hungarians captured by the coassacks. Melehkov a young Cossack soldier is the hero and protagonist of the story is portrayed henceforth as a quiet responsible and dutiful soldier.

Volume I, Part 9 shows the village the hero has left with the hearbreaks of the women and how they cope (or don’t) with the effects of the war, the ending shows the hero in a military hospital as a senior officer starts to inspect the hospital

Volume I, Part 10 shows a senior female noblewoman accompanied by officers and nurses one of the senior officers whom is about to award the hero with the St. George’s Cross but the hero is rude to him and embarrasses the senior hospital doctor who berates the hero right after the visiting part leaves. While he is rude one officer makes a sign that the hero is “crazy.” The hero asks to be sent home and the hospital doctor obliges.

Volume I, Part 11 focuses on the heroes return to his village only to discover that his wife has been unfaithful. He takes the law into his own hands chastising and beating both his wife and her adulterous Cossack officer the hero’s superior.

Volume II, Part 1 starts with the year 1916 and shows officers in an underground dugout discussing what they think will happen to the war including to what one officer asserts is his desire for Russia to loose the war and thereby seeing the end of Czardom and the regime. The same Cossack officer gives a prescient forecast of what will happen as the Russians are defeated. Ennui with the war or war weariness is overtly manifested as well by the hero who is now a junior officer. An enemy propaganda socialist leaflet is read out in which the landowners, industrialists and the czar are accused of starting the war and causing the Russians to suffer and that the Russians should not blame the German and Austro-Hungarian soldiers and this read out by the officers is listened to by a group of soldiers inside the officer’s dugout. A messenger arrives to deliver an order that the Colonel wishes to speak to his officers urgently. The final scene depicts the Cossack cavalry mounted preparing to assist in a Russian mass infantry assault against entrenched German infantry.

Volume II, Part 2 The Russian infantry stop and then run after realizing that gas is being used against them. The Cossack cavalry turn around and flee as well. Some officers in the Russian trenches shout at and even shoot a couple of their own men to try to stem the rout. A comrade admits to trying to kill the hero even though the hero has just saved the man’s life during the rout. Then a shot rings out and the hero himself is wounded. We next see the village with villagers talking about what is going on and if men have returned or not. Next a senior officer possibly a General on horseback at a railroad station addresses a large number of soldiers awkwardly to highlight the separation between high officers and the other ranks as this senior officer stumbles for words repeatedly to announce the March 1917 revolution and the establishment of the provisional government as well as the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II. The soldiers listen to him politely but there is some hostility when the locomotive engineers or soldiers in the locomotive try to drown out the officer with the train whistle.

Volume II, Part 3 The scene starts with the senior officer telling the men to let the Provisional government make political decisions and that the army should stay out of politics. A Cossack soldier then jumps up to say that is wrong and that he considers that the Cossacks are being cheated again and that the army and the people should decide whether to end the war and take the land. The Cossack soldier is cheered by most of the soldiers. The next scene shows Petrograd in a high class restaurant with upper class Russians including two Cossack officers dining. The two officers openly discuss the fate of Kerensky and his government along with the coup d’etat by Kornilov whom one of the officers states will take over the government. The officers state they will go the next day to meet Kornilov. Kornilov arrives at the Moscow train station where he is enthusiastically greeted including being lifted up by several officers. The next scene shows Narva in August 1917 as the troop trains grind to a halt after the railwaymen refuse to take the troops towards Petrograd. The officers state that the men will then advance by horse or foot onto Petrograd. Cornet Bunchuk the same officer who was shown in 1916 in Volume II, part 1 predicting the outcome of the war dressed in an plain soldier’s overcoat convinces most of the Cossacks to not obey their officers to march on Petrograd. He then leads his former comrade and executes him after being partially provoked by the captain’s insults and taunts. Bunchuk explains to the Cossacks who see him that its us or them and that the officer would have shot them just as easily. The next scene depicts the storming of the winter Palace in November 1917. Next we see the Cossacks returning from the war tired and defeatist in the spring of 1917. The summer politicking over Kaledin versus the Bolsheviks whom the former detested especially after having been relieved of his military command as he didn’t even support the March Revolution is well shown. When the Bolshevik local Cossack leaders go the nearby city of Rostov to discuss the upcoming summer elections they are tentatively taken into “protective custody” to protect them from the hostile middle class city folk who threaten them openly with hanging en masse. We see these Bolshevik Cossacks then being questioned patronizingly by an openly hostile audience in a hall by senior officers and others. When the Cossack leader gives the officer a list of the regiments as well as the demands of the Bolsheviks the officer merely smiles after glancing over these papers. The same Cossack Bolshevik leader then states that the Narod or people will decide the upcoming election and that if the Bolsheviks win a majority they will then ignore and not listen to the non-Bolsheviks.

Subsequent parts deal with the Russian Civil War in the Don.


Toronto, Canada

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Create New...