A small village on the Russo-German border forms a microcosm of the great changes Russia would undergo during the course of the First World War. The war poisons the village community; close friendships are destroyed by vindictive nationalism, while a sweet romance between a Russian girl (Yelena Kuzmina, By the Bluest of Seas) and a German POW is greeted with suspicion and disapproval. On the front, soldiers face the absurdity of trench warfare, and at home returning veterans are unable to return to normal life; while intimations of the Russian Revolution makes itself felt within the village.
Made in 1933, Outskirts is one of the most ambitious films from the early sound period, ahead of its time in its camera movements and its use of sound. The film moves freely from the comic to the tragic, domestic drama interspersed with harrowing war scenes. Boris Barnet has long been a cult film-maker in Europe, praised by the likes of Godard and Tarkovsky; with Outskirts regarded as one of the greatest films of Russian cinema.