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A five-person team of gold prospectors in the Yukon has just begun to enjoy great success when one of the members snaps, and suddenly kills two of the others. The two survivors, a husband and wife, subdue the killer but are then faced with an agonizing dilemma. With no chance of turning him over to the authorities for many weeks, they must decide whether to exact justice themselves or to risk trying to keep him restrained until they can return to civilization. Written by
With a gripping story and effective technique that establishes a memorable atmosphere and heightens the suspense, this lesser-known Russian-made silent melodrama is well worth tracking down. The plot, which (interesting to note) comes from a Jack London story, is quite efficient in getting a world of possibilities out of a situation that involves only a handful of characters. The technique relies mostly on the kind of montage approach that some of the Soviet film-makers apparently favored, and it shows how effective that technique can be when used in the right setting.
Set in a remote, frozen, and often claustrophobic location in the Yukon, the story focuses on the dilemmas faced by a husband and wife who must contend with a crazed killer even as they battle the elements. Both the practical challenges and the ethical/moral decisions they face are brought out well by the way that many short takes are pieced together in a fashion that constantly emphasizes the unstable and confused nature of the situation that the characters face. Only some occasional overacting (especially by the wife character) detracts from the effect, and it all leads up to a compelling final sequence. Overall, it's a distinctive and most interesting film that works quite well.
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