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Eduard Y. Volodarsky, Russian screenwriter banned by the Soviets; at 71

MOSCOW — Eduard Y. Volodarsky, a Russian screenwriter whose films are recognized classics today in Russia but whose efforts to present a picture of war on his own terms led the Soviet authorities to shelve many of his works for years, died last Tuesday. He was 71.

His death was confirmed by Tatyana Nemchinskaya, a spokeswoman for the Russian Union of Cinematographers. She did not give a cause.

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Mr. Volodarsky’s most famous screenplays rarely drifted from the themes of battle and camaraderie among men. But some of his scripts cast doubt on the carefully manicured history of the Soviet Union and spent years on the shelves of state film studios.

“Trial of the Road,’’ in which a young Russian partisan who previously collaborated with the Germans must prove his loyalty to a group of Soviet soldiers by hijacking a Nazi train, brought up troubling questions of turncoat partisans and the rough welcome that many Soviet POWs returned to after the war. Filmed in 1971, it was not released until 1986, during the reformist years of perestroika.

“My Friend Ivan Lapshin,’’ an unheroic portrayal of a local police officer set in a dingy prewar village, painted Soviet idealism in ironic tones. The film, shot in the early 1980s, also gathered dust until perestroika.

“What I want is to force viewers to watch a serious piece, where there aren’t just pointless gun battles and a pile of dead bodies,’’ Mr. Volodarsky said last month in his last televised interview.

Eduard Yakovlevich Volodarsky was born on Feb. 3, 1941, in Kharkiv, Ukraine. After he graduated from the All-Union Institute of Cinematography in Moscow in 1968, his first hit was ‘‘At Home Among Strangers’’ (1974), in which a group of Red soldiers returning from the Russian Civil War with a stash of gold are waylaid by bandits in an ambitious heist reminiscent of the Great Train Robbery.

One of the pioneering Soviet Westerns, the film bolstered the career of the young director Nikita Mikhalkov, who later won an Academy Award for best foreign-language film for ‘‘Burnt by the Sun.’’

Mr. Volodarsky’s serialization of Vasili Grossman’s ‘‘Life and Fate,’’ which is often called the ‘‘War and Peace’’ of World War II, will have its premiere this week on Russian television. The book, written in 1959, was itself banned for almost three decades.

Mr. Volodarsky leaves his wife, Farida A. Volodarskaya.

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