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And Quiet Flows the Don is a film from the Soviet Union, directed by Sergei Gerasimov. 330 minutes long, presented in four parts, it was originally released as three separate films in October 1957 and April 1958. The film tells the story of World War I, Red October, and the Russian Civil War, as seen from the perspective of Don Cossacks. The protagonist is Grigori "Grishka" Melekov, a Cossack cavalryman with the tsarist army, who lives in the village of Tatarsk on the Don River. Grigori has taken a fancy to Aksiniya, a local village woman, which is unfortunate since she is married to Stepan, another cavalryman. Meanwhile, Grishka's parents are trying to set him up with Natalya, who is both very pretty and fortunately unmarried.

This is all a backdrop to portray the violent upheavals in Russia and Ukraine from 1914 to 1922, as the area was wracked by war, revolution, and more war. And Quiet Flows The Don is based on the similarly epic novel series by Mikhail Shokolov.

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Tropes:

  • Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder: Aksiniya doesn't deal well with being left alone. When Stepan goes off on maneuvers, she cheats on him with Grishka. Eventually they run away together. Later, when she is working at General Listnitsky's estate as a servant and Grishka is off on maneuvers, she cheats on him with General Listnitsky's son Yevgeny.
    "She fawns on everyone who's kind to her."
  • Arranged Marriage: Grishka and Natalya are matched up by their parents. Grishka's father is super-pissed to hear that Grishka is still following Aksiniya around after he's married.
  • Blood from the Mouth: Aksiniya, right after she's shot in the back by a Bolshevik sentry as she and Grishka try to flee.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Aksiniya dies in Grishka's arms when she's shot as they're trying to escape.
  • Driven to Suicide: Darya, widowed after her husband Pyotr was killed in the civil war, drowns herself in the Don.
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  • Empathic Environment: A thunderstorm develops as Natalya rages about Grishka's infidelity and prays to God to strike him dead.
  • Epic Movie: Yes, that's right, five-and-a-half hours long. Shot in color, with the proverbial "cast of thousands" reenacting battle scenes from the First World War and the Russian Civil War. And Quiet Flows the Don has been called the Russian Gone with the Wind.
  • Faux Fluency: Grishka has a conversation with a "Mr. Campbell", who is apparently a British liason with the Don Cossack Whites. Mr. Campbell predicts that the Bolsheviks will win. Mr. Campbell also speaks English with a thick Russian accent.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: Grishka starts off as a tsarist cavalryman, supports the Bolshevik revolution and "Soviet power", then later fights against the Bolsheviks on behalf of the Don Cossack independence faction. Later he fights with the Bolsheviks again, but flees when he finds out he'll face a revolutionary tribunal anyway for his past fighting with the Whites.
  • Impairment Shot: A drunk Grishka sees double at a party.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Kalmykov the anti-Bolshevik officer is in the middle of daring Bunchuk to shoot him, when Bunchuk shoots him.
  • Mortal Wound Reveal: Anya is shot in the chest at the battle of Glubokaya, but keeps it secret until right before she bleeds to death.
  • The Mutiny: A Bolshevik Cossack regiment rebels in Part III, shooting the officer and going over to the Whites.
  • Reality Has No Subtitles: The German being spoken by enemy soldiers does not have any subtitles in Russian, or in English on the DVD.
  • A Storm Is Coming: "Dark clouds will turn to rain after a thunderstorm", referring to the unrest that is about to explode into Red October.
  • A Taste of the Lash: Stepan busts out a whip and whips Aksiniya after finding out she cheated on him. Later, Grishka does this to both Aksiniya and Yevgeny.
  • Victoria's Secret Compartment: Where Darya puts the 500 rubles she gets as compensation for Pyotr's death.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: Dissension in the ranks of the Cossacks, almost all of whom revolt against the Tsar, but later split between the Bolshevik faction and the faction that wants independence for Don Cossacks.
  • You Cannot Kill An Idea: Podtyolkov the Bolshevik says this right before his execution, telling the crowd that they'll be sorry later, and that all Russia will be Bolshevik.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Aksiniya and Grishka cheat on their spouses with each other. Grishka is serially unfaithful to Natalya, who decides she won't have another baby with such a husband. She tries to abort her own baby, and dies as a result.
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