The action takes place shortly after the end of the Second World War in the Siberian hinterland, among Russians and Germans with damaged personal stories and a strange transformation: the victors seem to be crawling into the skins of the defeated, and vice versa. Ignat, is the embodiment of the larger-than-life image of the Soviet victorious warrior who, in fact, proves to be shell-shocked, sick and broken, although not completely destroyed. Trains become fetish for the heroes of the film, and speed becomes a mania; they virtually become one with their steam engines, while the machines take on human names. The heroes set up an almost fatal race in the Siberian forest, risking their own lives and those of others.Written by
Saw the film last night at the Aero Theater in Santa Monica as part of a special Golden Globe viewing. The subject matter of German/Russian relationships, especially during WWII were some of the darkest moments in either countries histories, so this is not an easy subject for film. I was expecting something dark and brutal, which was not the case. This film utilizes black humor very well, akin to the Czech Film Divided We Fall, but it is not a comedy. The relationship between Germany and Russia before, during, and after WWII, including what the governments want us to believe is skilfully examined via the universal truths of the human experience of the characters in the film. Although this is a Russian film, this does not mean the film is any less relevant to a German audience. You do not need to know a lot of Russian German History to understand the film, but there is one key date you do need to know, that is June 1941, when Germany broke the alliance with Russia and invaded. Great film, hope it wins.
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