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Colourful 'optimistic tragedy' of a poor family in Ukraine, living in the Carpathian mountains near the Romanian border, during the Second World War. Five sons of the family make up the ... See full summary »
This film is now available on DVD in Russia, but there's no distributor name on the packaging (I bought it at a 505 store in St. Petersburg).
This is a little new wave gem. It's reminiscent of Sergo Paradjanov's "Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors" (1964) -- Ilyenko was Paradjanov's cameraman and both worked for Dovzhenko Studios in Kiev. Paradjanov's film (based on the Kotsiubynsky story of the same name) is set among the Hutsuls of western Ukraine while Ilyenko's takes place in central Cossack Ukraine. The considerable cultural differences are overcome by the similar approach to the material -- some critics use the term "Ukrainian Poetic Cinema" for the films made by the group around Paradjanov and Ilyenko, and you can read a fine article about them by Bohdan Nebesio on-line. Ilyenko went on to make "White Bird with a Black Spot," which I saw as an undergrad at UM and now have only the vaguest memory of; and the 2002 "Prayer for Hetman Mazepa" which had a very stormy reception.
The packaging says that this is a "poetic fantasy on the motifs of the stories of N. V. Gogol and Ukrainian folk tales." That's about right: the plot loosely follows Gogol's story, and also includes moments from the other "Dikanka" stories (the pig busting in on the Cossacks is especially nice), as well as from Ukrainian folk rituals.
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