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The Woman with the 5 Elephants (2009)

Die Frau mit den 5 Elefanten (original title)
Not Rated | | Documentary | 28 January 2010 (Germany)
First her father ends up in one of Stalin's prison camps, then young Svetlana herself experiences the German invasion. In order to survive she learns German at home in Kiev. She is good and... See full summary »


Vadim Jendreyko


Vadim Jendreyko
5 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »



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Credited cast:
Svetlana Geier Svetlana Geier ... Self
Anna Götte Anna Götte ... Self
Hannelore Hagen Hannelore Hagen ... Self
Jürgen Klodt Jürgen Klodt ... Self
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Johannes Geier Johannes Geier ... Self (archive footage)
Fyodor Ivanovich Mikhaylov Fyodor Ivanovich Mikhaylov ... Self (archive footage)
Sofiya Nikolaevna Mikhaylova Sofiya Nikolaevna Mikhaylova ... Self (archive footage)


First her father ends up in one of Stalin's prison camps, then young Svetlana herself experiences the German invasion. In order to survive she learns German at home in Kiev. She is good and gets work as a translator before ending up in a German camp in 1943. Now, 65 years later, she is a renowned translator who in her twilight years has translated the great works of Dostoevsky. For the first time in all these years, she returns to Kiev together with her granddaughter. Written by Göteborg International Film Festival

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User Reviews

great material, poor execution
20 May 2012 | by gaga75See all my reviews

Svetlana Geier, the protagonist of this documentary, is known for her praised re-interpretations of dostojevskys books from Russian to German. Thus she has very interesting things to say about language, literature and life. Moreover, growing up in Kiev she witnessed, how her family and friends fell victim to the stalinist purge and the German occupation, while she herself was one of the very few eastern europeans actually being promoted by the Nazi regime with a scholarship in Germany.

Unfortunately, this great material is presented in an unstructured an ill-paced manner. The only narrative frame is the historic one of the 30s and 40s. Everything else is shown in an arbitrary order. This is tolerable as long as the material is interesting enough to carry itself.

But what's really annoying is the passages, where we see here speaking in Russian to an ukrainian audience. Without subtitles. For minutes. Or we see here looking out of a train's or a taxi's window an speaking to herself in Russian. Without explanation or translation. For minutes. These parts, in total at least 30 minutes, convey hardly any information. In addition, the director very often fails finding pictures which would illustrate the narrated appropriately.

So if this documentary was re-edited, brought into a coherent shape and freed of all the superfluous crap, it would be quite a good one.

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Switzerland | Germany


German | Russian

Release Date:

28 January 2010 (Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

La femme aux 5 éléphants See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$4,988, 24 July 2011

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

Production Co:

3sat, Filmtank, Mira Film See more »
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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:



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