Visually astonishing, erotically charged and emotionally jarring. 100 Days Before the Command is Hussein Erkenov's courageous and stinging indictment of Communism. Five young Red Army recruits struggle for survival ag... more »ainst the merciless violence that surrounds them on a daily basis. Their only means of saving their dignity is by preserving the humanity and compassion they share for each other. Although not an overtly gay film, Erkanov's 100 Days Before the Command is remarkably direct in it's homoerotic imagery and subtexts. The film includes scenes where the soldiers share an intimacy and tenderness that is far removed from the brutality of most of their waking hours. (Amazingly all the roles are played by real life soldiers except one professional actor.) Banned by Soviet censors upon its initial release, Erkenov was forced to create his own sales company in order for the film to be screened at the 1995 Berlin Film Festival. 100 Days Before the Command is a unique entry into the world of post cold war film making from behind the former Iron Curtain.« less
thecriticalbishop | London, England United Kingdom | 01/11/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Enigmatic and at sometimes a surreal film about the day to day monotomy and futility of the lives of a group of conscript Russian soldiers. The film is stark and bare, the actors largely former recruits and the film style moves from dream sequences to fly on the wall documentary. Its hardly surprising this film was banned in the then Soviet Union - its harsh and disturbing view of conscript life is unreservedly critical, the visual presentation is almost hauntingly homo-erotic at times and as such the film isn't going to be a hit with authorities trying to conscript youths to military service where military life is marked by its drabness, un-ending boredom and the use of humiliation and bullying. The acting is naturalistic and realistic, the players gritty and real. The viewer is left in no doubt that national service behind the Iron Curtain was neither glamourous nor particularly pleasant. Well worth a spin if your into foreign films and like a challenging film, not for those who like Top Gun or Stripes."
A good look at Russian boot camp
J. Kersh | Tallahassee, Florida United States | 05/21/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Excellent movie. The film quality and color were above average. It is a somewhat surreal look at young men enduring life in a typical Russian boot camp setting. Haunting and powerful. You will want to watch this movie more than once. You will understand why this movie was banned in Russia. Not exactly a recruiting tool for the Red Army."
A timely meditation on the absurdity of war
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 02/15/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"At this moment in our history we need all the input about the multiple facets of the hideous War Machine that has an apparent strangle hold on every country on the planet. In this Russian meditation, 100 DAYS BEFORE THE COMMAND, we are shown the behind-locked-doors view of youth preparing to become soldiers and leaders of soldiers. On the surface the director's eye seems to be telling us that 'boot camp' for these VERY young appearing boys is no more than a summer camp experience. But then he gradually shows the darker, terrifying side of what preparing these innocents for war produces - suffering, self-doubt, death, alienating behaviour, dreams and nightmares. There is an incredible sense of innocence in the eyes of these youth, and a groping for comradery that lightly brushes on eroticism. The multiple nude scenes seem to be offending more people than the Russian censors, but they are some of the more tender and tangible scenes in this meandering film about questioning our place and mindsets in the propagation of war leaders. Of note, in this very Russian film, the music used in the background is all Bach - excerpts form the Passions, cantatas - instead of works by Russian composers. This adds another dimension to this apparent 'paean' for world peace. This film is not for everyone, especially not for those who still have difficulty with male nudity........."
Male Nudity in all Honesty and Naturalness
Paul Stefanski | Carmichael, CA | 08/09/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It's always wonderful to see European films that portray nakedness in a natural, non-pornographic setting; what a refresher from the average "American-Pie" films which I find phony. Furthermore, I myself am a Slavic person (born in the US)so I felt right at home with the movie, even though Communist oppression has never been conducive to the sensitive human spirit which is very much candidly seen in the young faces and eyes of the young boys in the film. It's also very refreshing to view a film where young boys are comfortable being naked with each other, without all the sexual shallowness very much associated with nudity in many other films. Watching this movie made me feel good and at home. It's only a shame that this film did not have a concise plot; it was a little on the messy and surreal side."
A documentary snapshot of Russian military life
Antonio B. Ooka Jr. | 11/14/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Some may be looking for deep symbolism in "100 Days". One reviewer called it surreal.
It is very realistic actually, almost a documentary about a real problem in Soviet and Russian society: low morale and brutal treatment of recruits in an Army dogged by a failed war in Afghanistan and the collapse of the Soviet Union. To this day today's Russian military has faced accusations of atrocities committed in Grozny, Chechnya, which had been tragic for both Russians and Chechens.
There have been Red Army scandals involving the deaths of young men at the hands of criminally sadistic officers and NCOs. Drug abuse, alcohol and even male prostitution have been known to occur on Army bases.
In one incident, commanding officers got recruits to perform sexual services for a third party while the officers took payment. There have been rapes and desertion and suicide is not any surprising event.
Just to escape the stultifying army environment, recruits had been known to get high off their boot polish. Many have gone blind from such dangerous activity.
Viewers of "100 Days" who attempt to make sense of all the nudity and strange broken down landscape shouldn't trouble themselves too much. Such places and activities literally did exist and were not such uncommon sites around 1990.
The boys rubbing eachother down nude is not just some bizarre symbolism. Men of all ages did and still do rub eachother down in the age old Russian tradition of the "Banya" or communal bath and sauna. To some Westerners it may look "gay" but it really is a traditional Russian cultural phenomenon.
The broken down, abandoned looking landscape was not a surreal movie set designed for effect. Soviet army bases were horribly dilapidated as much of Soviet society was at the point of collapse.
The translations are indeed peculiar as one review points out.
The original Russian title "Sto Dnej Do Prikaza" should actually be translated as "A Hundred Days 'Til Orders Arrive" (i.e. Orders to get discharged or move on to another place)
The producers maybe should have prefaced the film with some background on Soviet/Russian society and culture back in 1990 so the realistic episodes of the film would not seem meaningless and "surreal.""