another viewer commented on the lack of propaganda; that caught my eye, too, because this is a soviet film about czarist Russia. the soviets were surprisingly even-handed on this one. the only overtly political comment i picked up was when the police arrived at the house asking after a former boarder who was known to be against the czar. this does bring up an interesting point though, for the characters in the family are admittedly and obviously guilty of assaults, torture, murder and arson, but the only time the police appear is when seeking the anti-czarist boarder. it would appear that in this time just about anything went and none were responsible for their acts, unless it was failing to feed oneself when the punishment was beggary. very little in the way of human sympathy existed, and when it surfaced it was repaid thrice over with malice. a mean time. but it is beautifully photographed and the acting is wonderful. there isn't that much of a plot, per se, just vignettes of growing up, but that doesn't detract. it is fascinating to see a time like this preserved. i imagine the ussr in 1938 was actually materially very close to the czarist time it represented. change must have been very slow, as it had been for millenia. i have to say i just love the final shot. it seems the very essence of a soviet statement: the child marches off, leaving his friends behind cheering him on, into a vast flat nothingness - mother Russia unending. he is confidence personified.