Promise, The

1670. THE PROMISE (1969-England). COLOR. With IAN McKELLEN, JOHN CASTLE, SUSAN MacREADY. Written by MICHAEL HAYES. The setting is Leningrad, the year is 1942, and the time is World War II. The invading German armies are rapidly approaching: Leningrad is engulfed in flames, a city on the abyss Of ruin. So begins this intimate, intensely moving, excellently acted drama which details the plight Of a Leningrad native, Marat, who starts out as a naive 17-year-old biding his time until he’s called to military service. Marat’s parents have been killed; he has nothing left Of them, not even a photograph. He comes to the abandoned house in which he grew up, where he finds and takes up with Lika, a homeless 16-year-old. These children Of war may still be young enough to play act and dream, but they’re old enough to develop a deep, multifaceted relationship. The delicate balance that exists between them is altered upon the arrival Of Leonidik (Ian McKellen, seen to excellent advantage in one Of his earliest roles), another young man who also is soon to go Off to war. The scenario, adapted from a play by Aleksei Arbuzov that was presented on the London stage, goes on to cover 17 years Of modern Soviet history. More than anything else, though, it’s a personal drama: a pointed examination Of what it means to survive a war, what it means to be a man, and what it means to love. 92 minutes. Drama