Goodbye, Boys!

Ch. 8 Kalik versus Goskino: Goodbye, Boys! (1964/1966)

Set in the late 1930s, Goodbye, Boys! (1964) is a story of three teenage friends. In the lazy summer days they roam the streets of a small Russian seaside town as their youth slips away and World War II looms. The boys, one of whom is Jewish, optimistically look forward to their military careers, getting away from overprotective parents, and becoming heroes. However, in the course of the film, it becomes clear that these inexperienced idealists will be sent off to the front lines, where they will encounter horror and tragedy. To tell this story, the filmmaker, Mikhail Kalik, used excerpts from other films, mainly documentary footage, which function as flash-forwards to the war and the Holocaust. The excerpt shown here includes the final scenes of the film: the boys’ departure for the military academy, intercut with a flash-forward to the future war.

  1. The film is based on a very popular Soviet novel. What did the film add to it?
  2. What is depicted in the documentary footage constituting the flash-forward? Which historical events can you identify? Where do these events take place?
  3. The film was deemed very problematic by Soviet censors. What was so problematic?
  4. The film was finally released in the Soviet Union two years after its making. What was the history of the film after its release? Why was it forgotten?