Since no one has written a review of this, I will. I saw it at a Georgian film series in Washington. It was accompanied live by Trio Kavkasia joined by members of the Supruli Choirwhich added immeasurably to the experience. Even without accompaniment, this film is worth seeking out.
It's an epic film that tells the story of how tsarist Russia in the late 1860s began to appropriate Georgian lands held for centuries by local peasant tribes. The Russian Cossacks were expelling villages on the pretext that they illegally possessed firearms. This story centers on a hilltop village of Chechens, whose elders were smart enough to hide the village's guns, temporarily thwarting the Cossacks. A neighboring emissary from a nearby Georgian tribe that had rented farmlands from the Chechens for years visited the village to seek renewal of the rental agreement, but was suddenly told that the Russians now wanted the lands for themselves. The Georgian (who was also in love with the elder's daughter, although their love crossed ethnicities and religion) decided to go to the Russian general's headquarters to get permission from the general. The Russians, depicted as cruel buffoons, summarily denied permission and the Georgian overhears the general's order to take over the village and deport the Chechens to Turkey. He is determined to force the general to countermand this order, but the general angrily refuses and orders his men to arrest the Georgian. What ensues next is an amazingly staged one-against-20 fight that would have done Liam Neeson proud. It was funny and dramatic at the same time.
With the actions of the Georgian "savior" it looked good for the village, but the Cossacks had some more deceitful tricks up their sleeves, only to get their just desserts in the end.
Given the logistical challenges of filming a cast of thousands in the unforgiving rocky land of the Georgian mountains in 1928, the film is an overlooked tour de force. One can also see the seeds of the Chechens' hatred of the Russians in this film as well as the problems that the Georgians were going to have in reclaiming their country.
Finally, it is interesting to think that this film, to be made and released in 1928 in the Soviet Union, had to have had the blessing of Josef Stalina Georgian himself, who must have approved of the heroism of the Georgian against the Tsarists.
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