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Film / Nine Days of One Year

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Nine Days of One Year (also known as Nine Days in One Year) (Russian: Девять дней одного года) is a 1962 film from the Soviet Union, directed by Mikhail Romm, starring Alexsey Batalov. Batalov is Dmitri "Mitya" Gusev, a physicist working at a Soviet nuclear physics research facility. Lyolya, his old girlfriend and fellow physicist, has gotten engaged to Ilya, because Gusev has been neglecting her. However, when she finds out that Gusev is continuing with his research despite having been exposed to 200 roentgen of radiation, and against his doctor's advice that another exposure could kill him, Lyolya realizes she still loves Gusev and marries him instead. They settle into an uneasy domesticity at the research facility, while Gusev continues his work at risk to his health. The movie dramatizes nine non-consecutive days over the course of a single year in Gusev and Lyolya's lives.


Nine Days of One Year is one of the most famous cultural products of the "Khruschev Thaw", the period when Nikita Khruschev's reforms liberalized life in the Soviet Union after decades of absolute repression under Josef Stalin. Its skeptical take on scientific progress is especially notable in an era where the Soviets were celebrating achievements like Sputnik and Yuri Gagarin orbiting the earth.


  • Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder: Lyolya fell for Ilya after Gusev neglected her.
  • All for Nothing: Gusev and his coworkers can't reproduce the free neutrons that he believed were the product of a thermonuclear reaction. It turns out that though Gusev did make a discovery that has great implications for theoretical physics, the free neutrons were not caused by a thermonuclear reaction, and his efforts have no potential as an energy source. Gusev, who is dying from radiation sickness, is none too happy about this.
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  • The Cynic: Ilya has a rather cynical attitude towards both nuclear research and Soviet communism. When Gusev says that not so long ago Ilya would have been shot for talking the way he talks, Ilya says that back then, he would have kept his opinions to himself.
  • For Science!: Gusev knows he is risking his life, but he continues with his research.
  • Gray Rain of Depression: Rain patters the window of Lyolya and Gusev's apartment as she ponders the difficulties in their marriage.
  • Love Triangle: Between Lyolya, Ilya, and Gusev, although the Love Triangle ends in the first act when Lyolya chooses Gusev.
  • Ludd Was Right: Ilya notes how every advance in scientific knowledge is eventually used in war. When Gusev visits his father, a simple peasant farmer, his father wonders if it would be better if atoms had never been discovered.
  • No Ending: Gusev, who is dying from radiation poisoning, is in the hospital, awaiting an experimental bone marrow donation that may save his life. Ilya and Lyolya sit outside in a waiting room. Gusev has a nurse give them a handwritten note in which he suggests that if Ilya can find him some pants, they can go out to dinner. The End.
  • Time Skip: Eight time skips, as the narrative jumps forward from one day to the next.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: The same accident that caused Gusev to absorb 200 roentgen caused his mentor, Prof. Sintsov, to absorb a fatal dose of 800 roentgen. Sintsov remarks how strange it is to know that he is doomed to die while he feels perfectly fine. (This is Truth in Television, as the Real Life case of American researcher Louis Slotin demonstrated.)

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