It's a very unusual movie in many respects. The production year is 1969, the height of the Soviet regime, hard-line ideology had triumphed in Prague and some modest gains during Khruschev's "ottepel"/thaw were quickly being dismantled.
And all of a sudden we see on the screen a mountain village in the heart of Dagestan, a small autonomous republic on the Caspian sea (yes, that same area where the Russians are fighting local Islamic guerrillas now - well, most of you will have to check your knowledge of geography, since it is generally non-existent). Guess what, it's the 60s and there is virtually no Soviet power to speak of. It was a true statement then, but something that the Soviet regime would never want to acknowledge, particularly on screen. How the heck this movie sneaked past the censorship - still beats me, there must be an interesting story to tell.
Moreover, the villagers live according to Sharia law, the movie, although in a very comical way, portrays the condition of the woman in the Islamic soviet republic. The whole storyline is based on the obscure Sharia custom of marriage. I was puzzled and surprised watching this.
It's a very warm movie in its portrayal of people and village life. It feels untypically authentic and void of any hint of propaganda. Even the soviet-type ending fits well and is quite believable. In any case, nothing changes much about these people, just a few minor things. We are in 2009, and this is as true as it was back then.
The language is Russian, none of the main actors is from Dagestan, judging by the cast. Lots of Armenians in the cast, which is kind of funny, since there aren't too many in the area. Wish they release it with decent subtitles. I think the movie is available on DVD in Russia, obviously without any subtitles (just another sign of cultural isolationism, total disregard to anybody else and simple professional incompetence of the publishers - nothing new there). It is very worth watching for anyone interested in the anthropology and culture of the region, great illustration material for women studies as well. Anyone else, without any professional interest will simply enjoy a good humanistic story.
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