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Seventeen Moments of Spring (Russian: Семнадцать мгновений весны, Semnadtsat' mgnovenij vesny), also Seventeen Instants of Spring, is a 1973 Soviet TV miniseries. It was directed by Tatyana Lioznova and based on the eponymous book by the novelist Yulian Semyonov. The series consists of 12 episodes, 70 minutes each.
The series depicts the life of a Soviet spy Maxim Isaev operating in Nazi Germany under the name Max Otto von Stirlitz, played by the Soviet actor Vyacheslav Tikhonov. Other leading roles were played by Leonid Bronevoy, Oleg Tabakov, Yuri Vizbor, Yevgeniy Yevstigneyev, Rostislav Plyatt, Vasily Lanovoy and Mikhail Zharkovsky.
In 2009, a remastered version in color was released.
This series had openly disobeyed the Soviet cinema rule of depiction Nazis as a Complete Monsters (Those Wacky Nazis will do, too). Walther Schellenberg, Müller and Bormann were performed by the very popular and charismatic actors Oleg Tabakov, Leonid Bronevoy and Yuri Visbor (but a touch of charm they have added to their roles did not hide the fact that the Nazi leaders were monsters - that is what is called "the brilliant acting") and Nazi bosses in general were shown as being very much alike the Soviet bosses of the time. And the protagonist, Stirlitz, looked like a Soviet intellectual who has to hid his true self under the mask of obedience, loyality and proper ideological orientation. Stirlitz's awesome ability to outwit his bosses and keep "the human face" at the same time (despite the fact that one could hardly make a career in SS from 1939 till 1945 without staining his hands) was praised by the Soviet audience, who felt as being spied in their own country.
There was something in Stirlitz that revealed a Soviet officer in him. Was it his proud posture? Or some hidden flame of generosity in his eyes? Or a parachute dragging behind him?
1945, 1st of May. The very sad and depressed Hitler is walking alone down the corridor.
Stirlitz: (approachig Hitler) Heil Hitler!
Hitler: These days even you are mocking me, comrade Isaev...
Stirlitz's odyssean wit that helped him to unbond the thickest knot of problems, became an object of mockery, too:
During of the session of the Nazi headquarter council, Stirlitz breaks in, makes some photos of secret documents and escapes.
Hitler: Who was that?
Bormann: Stirlitz, the Russian spy.
Hitler: Why he is not arrested yet?
Müller: We tried to arrest him, but he always has a proper explanation of what he did.
(comic effect was strenghthened by common knowledge that KGB, unlike Gestapo in the film, could always simply forge the evidence of one's "guilt").
There is also a prequel series, set in the Red October era. Avoid it.
- Agent Provocateur: Klaus.
- Affably Evil: Walter Schellenberg.
- Colonel Badass: Stirlitz.
- Good Shepherd: Pastor Schlag is a rare example of a Good Minister in the Soviet media.
- Sadistic Choice: an SS-woman threatens to freeze Kat's baby to death unless she gives up the name of resident.
- Mook Face Turn: but in this very moment a guard is reminded of his own baby kid, and, being driven into the Papa Wolf rage, shoots the SS-woman and her senior officer dead.
- Babies Ever After: and after this heroic act he escapes together with Kat. They've taken his own baby from orphanage ('cause his own mom is dead because of the bombing) and, pretending to be the married couple, try to find the rescue. Than, oops, he gets himself killed, and Kat has to somehow manage in the hostile Berlin with two babies on her hands. Everything ends well.
- Better to Die Than Be Killed: professor Pleischner throws himself out of the window to avoid being captured and tortured by Gestapo.
- Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Klaus.
- Cyanide Pill: A suicide pill hidden in a cigarette.
- One-Scene Wonder: A General in the train.
- Benevolent Boss: Schellenberg. Yes, the Nazi Benevolent Boss.
- Smug Snake: Barbara Krein.