Thursday, June 14, 2012

Euro 2012: Russian Films

Entry #16 of the Euro 2012 Book & Film Spotlight looks at the two Russian films.

Silent Souls (2010, Aleksei Fedorchenko)

Two men undertake a journey so that one of them can perform the final rituals to cremate his wife. The two share a deep friendship as illustrated by their interaction especially the comfortable silence they share. They understand each other and are perfectly content to sit quietly when needed and not fill the silence with empty words. There are many tender scenes spread throughout Silent Souls which reaches a high emotional moment during the cremation and spreading of ashes. The river/sea play a key part in the film’s theme as illustrated by some of the cinematography and dialogues. In one sequence when the two friends are talking, the shot of traffic in the background appears like a river, constant and ever flowing. The film also contains the following lines:

”because a live woman’s body is also a river that carries grief away...
It’s only a shame you can’t drown in it.”

Like another Russian film Euphoria, Silent Souls is elevated to a grander scale by its microscopic focus on two characters. The film depicts unique moments in their lives but those sentiments can also be extrapolated to apply on a larger scale.

How I Ended This Summer (2010, Aleksey Popogrebskiy)

An experienced meteorologist Sergey (Sergey Puskepalis) is working with a younger man, Pavel (Grigoriy Dobrygin), in a lonely outpost in the Arctic taking measurements. Sergey can’t wait to return home to his wife and his child while Pavel has no such family attachments but still can’t wait to return to civilization. When Sergey goes on an extended fishing trip, Pavel receives a radio message regarding an accident in Sergey’s family. Pavel knows the news will cause Sergey to worry so he decides to delay the news until a ship will come to take Sergey home. However, covering up the lie proves too difficult for Pavel and the guilt combined with the isolation drives him crazy. As a result, the film heads off into a different direction with paranoia and fear overtaking events.

How I Ended This Summer focusses on two men just like Silent Souls. The difference is that Sergey and Pavel are not friends but brought together because of their job. If Sergey and Pavel men shared a friendship, then that would have ensured a more open communication between the two and not the direction the film takes. There is no rational explanation to describe why Pavel acts the way he does but his inexperience and fear cause him to make things more difficult than needed.

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