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Nobody Wanted to Die

Vytautas Žalakevičius
Niekas nenorėjo mirti
USSR 1966 / 107’
USSR: Golden Age

At first viewing, No One Wanted to Die is a typical Soviet film, where the communists and peasants are good and the Forest brothers are bad. The plot is about the revenge of the sons of a village chairman killed by guerrillas. But the film’s miracle is the choice to make it a Western, which allowed Žalakevičius to tell the truth about the Forest brothers, even if he could not make the telling of such a truth too obvious.

When the director screened the film to his bosses, they ordered him to cut the first scene, where Soviet tanks roll into a Lithuanian village, and changed the title from Terror. The new title is a perfectly clear message to the audience, with country landscapes typical of westerns, brutal masculine protagonists, and a sharp contrast between the natural magic of the forest and the crushing village alleys. Watching this film, we feel the real cause of this bloody war are the new (communists) in power.

Sergey Lavrentyev / Rotterdam IFF


1967 USSR State Prize for Best Cinematography and Best Actor; Karlovy Vary IFF 1967 – Second Prize

Vytautas Žalakevičius

Born in 1930, died in 1996. Lithuanian film director and writer. He was Artistic Director of the Lithuanian Film Studio (Lietuvos Kino Studija). He studied mathematics and engineering at Kaunas University for two years. From 1951 to 1956, he studied film directing at VGIK in Moscow. He shot to fame with his 1956 film Adam Wants to Be a Man. His best-known film, Nobody Wanted to Die, starring Lithuanian and Latvian actors, brought him international recognition. From 1974 to 1980, Žalakevičius was staff director at Mosfilm, albeit his Moscow period was less productive, so he returned to Lithuania. Žalakevičius devoted himself to establishing an independent Lithuanian film industry. He also taught directing and writing and worked for television.

Selected filmography

1956 Skenduolis (short)

1957 Kol nevėlu

1959 Adomas nori būti žmogumi / Adam Wants to Be a Man

1966 Nikt nie chciał umierać / Niekas nenorėjo mirti / Nobody Wanted to Die

1973 Wspaniałe słowo – wolność / Tas saldus žodis – laisvė / That Sweet Word: Liberty!

1980 Nepažįstamo žmogaus pasakojimas / Story of an Unknown Man

1987 Savaitgalis pragare


Cast & Crew

director Vytautas Žalakevičius
screenplay Vytautas Žalakevičius
cinematography Jonas Gricius
editing Izabelė Pinaitytė
music Algimantas Apanavičius
cast Regimantas Adomaitis, Donatas Banionis, Juozas Budraitis, Algimantas Masiulis
production Lietuvos Kino Studija
sales Lietuvos Kino Studija
source of print Filmoteka Narodowa
language Russian
colouration b&w