Miles of Fire
Miles of Fire/The Burning Miles is an early Red Western
The Ostern or Red Western was the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc countries' take on the Western.It generally took two forms:...

 filmed by Samson Samsonov
Samson Samsonov
Samson Iosifovich Samsonov was a Soviet and Russian film director and screenwriter, he was granted the honorary title of People's Artist of the USSR in 1991....

 in 1957. Often considered the earliest of the 'Red Westerns' (or 'Osterns'), it was made before the term was coined. The film is a Russian civil war
Russian Civil War
The Russian Civil War was a multi-party war that occurred within the former Russian Empire after the Russian provisional government collapsed to the Soviets, under the domination of the Bolshevik party. Soviet forces first assumed power in Petrograd The Russian Civil War (1917–1923) was a...

 drama, focusing on the conflict between the Reds and the Whites.

One-time Mosfilm
Mosfilm is a film studio, which is often described as the largest and oldest in Russia and in Europe. Its output includes most of the more widely-acclaimed Soviet films, ranging from works by Tarkovsky and Eisenstein , to Red Westerns, to the Akira Kurosawa co-production and the epic Война и Мир...

 actor Samsonov had a versatile directorial career prior to The Burning Miles, fresh from an adaptation of Chekhov
Anton Chekhov
Anton Pavlovich Chekhov was a Russian physician, dramatist and author who is considered to be among the greatest writers of short stories in history. His career as a dramatist produced four classics and his best short stories are held in high esteem by writers and critics...

's The Cricket that won two prizes at the Venice Film Festival
Venice Film Festival
The Venice International Film Festival is the oldest international film festival in the world. Founded by Count Giuseppe Volpi in 1932 as the "Esposizione Internazionale d'Arte Cinematografica", the festival has since taken place every year in late August or early September on the island of the...

. He was later awarded the title of 'People's Artist of the USSR
People's Artist of the USSR
People's Artist of the USSR, also sometimes translated as National Artist of the USSR, was an honorary title granted to citizens of the Soviet Union.- Nomenclature and significance :...


Plot summary

The White
White movement
The White movement and its military arm the White Army - known as the White Guard or the Whites - was a loose confederation of Anti-Communist forces.The movement comprised one of the politico-military Russian forces who fought...

 Guard Army led by General Anton Denikin are laying siege to a southern city in order to prevent a rebellion. They are also blocking the railway, but Chekist
Cheka was the first of a succession of Soviet state security organizations. It was created by a decree issued on December 20, 1917, by Vladimir Lenin and subsequently led by aristocrat-turned-communist Felix Dzerzhinsky...

 Zavarzin is in a hurry to travel south. In a flash of inspiration, he decides to use tachanka
The tachanka was a horse-drawn machine gun platform, usually a cart or an open wagon with a heavy machine gun installed in the back. A tachanka could be pulled by two to four horses and required a crew of two or three...

or machine gun
Machine gun
A machine gun is a fully automatic mounted or portable firearm, usually designed to fire rounds in quick succession from an ammunition belt or large-capacity magazine, typically at a rate of several hundred rounds per minute....

 carts to reach his destination, and attracts an unusual group of equally desperate fellow travellers.

The Burning Miles is influenced by railroad Western films like John Ford
John Ford
John Ford was an American film director. He was famous for both his westerns such as Stagecoach, The Searchers, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and adaptations of such classic 20th-century American novels as The Grapes of Wrath...

's classic Stagecoach, because of the diverse set of characters thrown together in desperate circumstances. Zavarzin's companions on his journey include the doctor Shelako, the nurse Katya and a mysterious white guard officer Beklemishev, disguised as a veterinary surgeon
Veterinary surgeon
Veterinary surgeon is a term used to describe:*The full title of a vet, who treats disease, disorder and injury in animals, in the United Kingdom and several Commonwealth countries**See also Veterinary medicine in the United Kingdom...

. This formula gives the film an extra psychological dimension as the characters' progress towards their destination echoes the resolution of their problems and transitions in relationships.

Main cast

  • Igor Savkin (Grigory Fyodorovich Zavarzin)
  • Margarita Volodina (Katerina Gavrilovna)
  • Mikhail Troyanovsky (Dr. Shelako)
  • Vladimir Kenigson (Sergei Beklemishev)
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