Aug 242009


This scene towards the end of part 8 of “Seventeen Moments of Spring” is superb. Heinrich Mueller (played by Leonid Sergeyevich Bronevoy) is just now learning that the Russian agent they’ve been after is our hero, Stirlitz. He already had suspicions and had acted on them, but also didn’t think Stirlitz really was the one. His coming to grips with his new knowledge is excellent acting. He’s alternately surprised, disappointed, disbelieving, irritable, and more. It takes time for it all to sink in, and the movie doesn’t rush. It gives us time to watch it happen. There is nothing trite about the way it’s played.

This movie is unlike most Russian war movies I’ve seen (and unlike most American ones, too, that I know of) in that it doesn’t demonize the Germans. Mueller and the others are played as very real people, not only in this scene but throughout. Well, we’ve only watched to the end of part 8, so I can’t speak for parts 9-12 yet.

BTW, in American movies the Germans would usually be made to speak English with a fake German accent. If in this movie they’re speaking Russian with a fake German accent, I’m not able to tell. Nor can I tell if the Americans speak Russian with a fake American accent.

The screenshot above is from the version I got from Memocast. If you click on it, you will go to a YouTube version that isn’t as good, and on which the aspect ratio is messed up. I’m glad I’ve been able to watch it in a better quality version than that.


  • Asya Pereltsvaig

    It is indeed true that this movie is quite different at least from the films that preceded it in that it does not depict the Germans are stupid. I am glad you picked up on that. In fact, in the scene (which I think is later than this) where Stirlitz is interrogating Kate (well, it’s a fake interrogation of course, but he needs one for the record—and I hope it’s not a spoiler alert as you’ve seen it all by now!), so in that interrogation scene, Stirlitz tells Kate “why do you depict us Germans as stupid in your movies? If we are so stupid, how come we came to the gates of Stalingrad?” or some such. So it was a conscious decision by the director to do this and the film even makes this meta-comment. And BTW the actor who played Schellenberg apparently got a card from the relatives of the real Schellenberg thanking him for playing him so well…

  • I’ll just add that nobody in this movie (Germans or Americans) speaks with an accent. I think it goes with that notion that the director was trying (consciously!) not to depict Germans or Americans as stupid or subhuman or all that foreign really. After all, the German Reich is merely a projection of the Soviet system, as the book author Yulian Semyonov has noted…

    And I agree with you on brilliant writing: my favorite quote from this scene is where Muller is asking for his shaving blades — that’s awesome acting!

  • Asya, that’s good to know. When I’m able to detect Russian spoken with fake accents, I’ll be a lot further along than I am now.

  • As far as I remember, it wasn’t as common a practice in Russian movies… I might be wrong though…