The first in the ‘Maksim trilogy’ is a landmark of Soviet Socialist Realism directed by Grigori Kozintsev and Leonid Trauberg, who made some of the most original Soviet films of the 1920s.

Stills must not be reproduced, copied or downloaded in any way.

Film details

Alternative titles

  • MAXIM'S YOUTH Alternative
  • The YOUTH OF MAXIM Alternative


“This film is aesthetically ‘richer’ than most other Socialist realist films, the truly great success of the period.”
Barbara Leaming, Grigori Kozintsev, 1980

Set in Saint Petersburg in the early 1910s, this powerful film follows factory worker Maksim (Boris Chirkov) – one of the most popular heroes of 1930s Soviet cinema – as he develops from carefree, unenlightened youth to committed Bolshevik.

The film’s force derives from its stark visual language, characterised by light and dark contrasts and extensive close-ups, and its use of authentic revolutionary songs which, hauntingly sung without musical accompaniment, underscore the workers’ suffering. Although the film portrays shocking and painful events, it also possesses a strain of light-hearted humour that at times verges on the eccentric, recalling elements of the filmmakers’ earlier, more experimental work.

The Return of Maskim (Vozvrashchenie Maksima, 1937) and The Vyborg Side (Vyborgskaia storona, 1938) complete the trilogy.

During World War Two, Sergei Gerasimov brought Maksim back to Soviet screens in the morale-boosting, A Meeting with Maksim (Vstrecha s Maksimom, 1941).

Cast & Credits

Latest from the BFI

  • Latest from the BFI

    Latest news, features and opinion.

More information

Films, TV and people

  • Films, TV and people

    Film lists and highlights from BFI Player.

More information

Sight & Sound magazine

  • Sight & Sound magazine

    Reviews, interviews and features from the international film magazine.

More information

Back to the top