A Russian soldier who spent ten years in captivity in Afghanistan, returns to his home village and shocks all its inhabitants because of his conversion to Islam. During his absence, his ... See full summary »
A Russian soldier who spent ten years in captivity in Afghanistan, returns to his home village and shocks all its inhabitants because of his conversion to Islam. During his absence, his father hanged himself, his brother served a prison term and his former fiancée has become a woman of very low morals. The village is the scene of endless drinking while the local boss is selling off the land for dollars to new-rich Russians. Our hero turns out as the only sober and hard-working member of the community. However, his attachment to his new faith soon provokes the hatred and rejection of everyone else, including his own family. Written by
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A Russian soldier returns to his dreary rural village after several years in captivity in Afghanistan. During this time, he has converted to Islam, but he finds his home village full of people who long ago lost their original Russian Orthodox faith, except for a few relics such as kissing the icons, and have also lost whatever belief in Marxism they may once have had. At the same time, they are left out of the economic changes that are occurring in the cities. They are stuck in an impoverished, depressing environment, and with no established guidelines, they adopt the principle of "Get it while you can." The local Orthodox priest is young and cheerful, but ultimately ineffectual against the deep-seated disillusionment and cynicism of the villagers, who drink, steal, sleep around, and look out for number one.
Into this environment comes a young man who actually believes in something. The usual problems of reverse culture shock (coming back home after a long time in a foreign environment) are exacerbated by his dismay at the behavior of his family and friends. They, in turn, find him insufferable. He won't drink, kiss the icons, or help steal from the local factory.
While the film drags in spots, it's a fine portrayal of a dysfunctional society in which no one believes in anything anymore. (Most non-religious people in more affluent societies have some set of philosophical principles that they follow, but that kind of disillusionment in an impoverished, uneducated society can lead to nihilism.) The villagers clearly need "something to believe in," even if it's just a way to improve the economic and social standing of their village.
In the meantime, what will they do when faced with someone who has a strong inner core of beliefs?
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