Sibiriada (Siberiade) (1979)



Director:     Andrei Konchalovsky.

Starring:     Natalya Andrejchenko (Anastasya Solomina),  Sergei Shakurov (Spiridon Solomin),  Vitali Solomin (Nikolai Ustyuzhanin),  Vladimir Samojlov,  Pascal Aubier,  Ivan Dmitriyev (Blinov),  Konstantin Grigoryev,  Lyudmila Gurchenko (Taya Solomina),  Pavel Kadochnikov (Eternal Grandfather),  Mikhail Kononov (Rodion Klimentov),  Yelena Koreneva,  Yevgeni Leonov-Gladyshev (Alesha Ustyuzhanin),  Vladimir Levitan,  Nikita Mikhalkov (Aleksey Ustyuzhanin),  Ruslan Miqaberidze (tofik Rustamov),  Maksim Munzuk (Fedyka),  Igor Okhlupin (Philip Solomin),  Yevgeni Perov (Yerotei Solomin),  Leonid Pleshakov,  Vladimir Simonov (Afanasy Ustyuzhanin),  Nikolai Skorobogatov (Yermolai),  Vadim Vilsky.

two families, one wealthy and the other proletariat, through six decades from WWI to Bolshevik Revolution, to WWII and to the era of modernization


Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire film. 


Part I. 

Chapter 1.  Yelan.

There is an explosion at a work place.  A tall tower collapses in the fire.  The cup on a table rattles from the blast.  A man looks at the photographs on his wall. 

The wind over the lake makes a terrific howl.  A man starts to go into the house.  A little boy runs out of the doorway knocking the man into the snow.  The boy also falls in the snow.  The man asks the boy whose boy are you?  He says nobody's.  Two young girls arrive, one leading the horse and the other riding on the horse-drawn sleigh.  The first girl tells the boy that now she has him.  She grabs him and starts knocking his head into the snow.  She says:  "Dad'll teach you to go crawling around people's barns."  The man breaks up the struggle.  As the sleigh passes by the boy, the second girl and the boy trade some very nasty insults.  The man asks the boy if that is his girlfriend.  Hell no, he says, they are his worst enemies, the Solomins. 

A young woman runs from one building to another.  The man asks who is she?  She is a girl dad found in the woods half-dead. 

Chapter 2.  Skins.

The boy invites the man into his cabin.  He gives him some of the Solomins's dumplings to eat.  The wild gal comes into the cabin and the man jumps.  He is very nervous about something. The man asks the boy why he is stealing the Solomins's dumplings?  The boy says they have bagfuls of dumplings in the barn.  He has stolen up to 500 a night.  The man asks him isn't he ashamed?  The kid says look who's talking  -- a runaway convict.  He knows this he says because the man still has on his convict label.   The boy says his mother drowned and his dad is out chopping a roadway through the woods.  Dad was a hunter but he gave it up for the road.  He works on it alone.  The boy says: "We Ustyuzhanins are all like that." 

A man and a woman come in to the cabin asking for Afanya.  The man, called Ted, says he gets the sables, squirrels and martens and Solomin takes it all and gives Ted nothing.  The little boy, named Kolya, says it's the hunter's own fault.  The convict, however, says hold on Kolya.  Kolya replies that Ted always swaps all his sables for vodka and then cries about it later.  The convict and the woman help Ted up off his knees and walk him outside. 

Two men are gutting a pig, while a third looks on.  The convict speaks to a very large man, named Yerofei Solomin.  He asks:  "You are the head man, right?"  Right, says the man.  The convict asks the man to give Ted his pelts back.  One of the pig gutters goes to the gate and blocks the way, laughing away.  The other pig gutter, named Vasya, starts walking toward the convict.  The convict grabs something inside his jacket pocket saying he has a bomb. So the head man tells Vasya to let Ted have his sables back.  But keep a few because Ted drank their vodka.  Ted gets the pelts and runs out the gate.  The three men surround the convict. 

Kolya runs to get his father.  He tells him he is needed in the village.  The Solomins are threatening a runaway convict, named Rodion Klimentov.  Dad isn't that interested in the man or the village. 

Chapter 3.  Trap.

The men sit and drink with the convict.  Yerofei says:  Seven days in the cold, 500 versts.  The men suddenly see that Rodion has placed a bomb on the table.  Yerofei says Rodion is a brave man walking alone in the taiga.  Yerofei adds:   "Ours is a cursed land for an outsider."  Then one of the men smashes a long piece of curved wood down on the forearms of Rodion , who screams in pain.  The bomb starts rolling off the table and the three tough guys dive for cover, while Rodion dives for the bomb.  He retrieves his bomb and tells the men he will blow them all up. 

At this time Kolya's father enters the room.  Kolya tells Rodion that there's nothing to worry about.  His father is here. 

Back in Kolya's cabin Rodion tells the boy that he is feverish.  He says his hands are getting numb.  An old man enters the room.  He is called the Eternal Old Man and he has brought his bear with him.  The old man asks Kolya's father where the road is going to.  Dad answers that it doesn't matter as long as it is far from here.  The Old Man says watch out, Afonya.  "Your road leads straight to the Devil's Mane."

Kolya goes into the barn again to steal.  Nastya Solomin follows him in and and says"  "Gotcha!"  She tells him he shall have dumplings if he strips himself naked and runs three times around the well.  Or is Kolya a chicken?  Kolya strips naked.  He runs around the well three times.  Nastya has his clothes and she throws them to the dog, which is tied up.  Kolya says he is not afraid and grabs one side of the clothes.  The boy and dog start fighting a battle of tug-of-war. 

Chapter 4.  Joy Ride.

Afonya, Kolya and the wild gal are sailing an ice boat on the frozen river.  All the villagers rush out to the lake shore to see the wondrous sight.  The Solomins chase the boat saying they want a ride.  Kolya tells the Solomins to strip bare if they want a ride. 

Rodion is leaving and Kolya is mad at him for not taking him along.  He explains to Kolya that he is a revolutionary fighter and he's an expert bomb maker.  His comrades have been waiting for him in Irkutsk for two months.  Kolya still wants to go with him. 

As they talk some armed men bust through the door.  Another man, Safon, comes through the door.  He says Rodion has lost some weight.  The man then takes Rodion's head and smashes it into the wall twice.  Rodion goes down.  Then Safon pushes Rodion all the way across the floor into a small bit of hay.  The men sit down.  As Rodion comes up he has a bomb held in his teeth.  He tells Kolya to get the ice boat ready.  Kolya runs out.   As Rodion prepares to run out the door he rolls the bomb across the floor headed toward Safon.  Safon grabs the bomb and throws it out the window, but the blast caves in part of the cabin.   

Chapter 5.  Capture.

Rodion runs to the ice boat.  The prison guards chase him.  Rodion is soon out of breath and the guards catch him.  Kolya runs to a village celebration to tell his Uncle Vasily that they are taking Rodion away.  Uncle throws Kolya out of the cabin much to the delight of Nastya.    The Solomins burn the ice sailing boat.  Kolya runs to catch up with the guards.  He shouts what the Solomins have done to his boat.  Rodion says a few words to the boy, but that doesn't console him.  The guards move out with their prisoner, as Kolya stands and watches.

1914.  WWI begins.  News footage presented. 

Chapter 6.  Anastasia.  The Twenties. 

Afonya has built a corduroy road through the woods.  He shouts for his son to come and help him.  Kolya is up in a tree seeing if there is anything up ahead, so he says.  What awaits them is miles and miles of marshes.  Kolya is a young man now.  His father tells him to come down.  Kolya tells dad that he has chopped trees with him for five years and now he has had it.  Dad starts chopping down Kolya's tree so Kolya swings over to another tree and comes down on that one.  He asks his father what kind of life has he had because of his damn road.  He doesn't even have a woman.  And maybe he's the son of a Solomin who had sex with his mother when dad was working on his road.  Dad swings, Kolya ducks and dad hits his hand on a tree trunk.  He then chases Kolya around threatening to hit him with a long stick. 

Dad calls for Nastya.  Phil Solomin's outside.  Dad warns her not to get too involved with Kolya.  Mom says you can't trust those Ustyuzhanins. 

Two men return looking completely exhausted.  Dad Solomin wants to know what's happened.  His son says it's the revolution.  The poor are marauding and killing people.  They grabbed what they could.  Nastya goes by heading to Kolya.  His brother blocks her way at the gate.  He doesn't want her with Kolya.  Nastya, a strong woman, pushes him out of the way.  She sees an old man in the woods who motions her to follow him.  He feeds her a berry and then plays the flute. 

Chapter 7.  Forbidden Fruit. 

Together with Nastya, Kolya asks Nastya if she misses him.  She says:  "Life is no life without you, Kolya."  Nastya wants to make out with Kolya, but he is distracted by his father felling a tree that lands not far from them.  He asks her what's new in the village.  Their people are back. There was some sort of revolution.  The Tsar was toppled.  Kolya runs to his father to tell him that the Tsar has been overthrown.  The people have revolted.  He goes back to tell Nastya that now his people will be on top.  He asks her how long her people have been smothering and crushing his people?  She says she can always marry Phil Solomin.  Kolya tells her never to come back. 

Nastya calls for Phil who is working in the fields.  Phil tries to ignore her saying he doesn't like her toying with him.  She steps in front of him and stops him for working.  She kisses him passionately on the lips.  He staggers backwards and leaves the fields.  His father laughs.  He asks her:  "Anastasia, should I send the matchmaker?"  She says yes, Uncle Yermolai. 

Kolya tries to talk with Nastya, but she won't cooperate.  He apologizes.  She says:  "Get lost!"  She says she has forgotten all about him.  Then she starts kissing Phil in front of Kolya. 

Chapter 8.  Loveless.

There's going to be a wedding say the villagers as Phil and his family walk through the village.  Kolya kneels before the gates.  He shouts to Nastya that he doesn't know what he will do.  He might wreck the entire village.  "Come out or I'll leave without you," he shouts.

Kolya's father continues chopping down trees.  He sits down to rest.  He has a huge bottle of vodka that he finishes off.  Then he lays down on a slight incline and falls asleep.  Unbeknownst to him, he falls asleep right on an ant hill. 

The Solomins drag Kolya over to the lake.  They tell him to take a boat and leave.  Go to the revolution if he so wishes.  Kolya says he won't go without Anastasia.  The Solomins keep kicking him in the ass.  He bounces off one and then rebounds onto another forcing him down on a fire.  The guy has to rush to the lake to put out the flames. Then they really start beating him.  They put him on a boat and push it out into the river. 

Out by the road, the ants almost completely cover Afonya's face.  A still unconscious Kolya floats in his boat down stream.

Nastya gets up early and grabs her gun.  Phil is washing up and sees her.  Later she passes by a barn.  Phil grabs her and pulls her into the structure.  She struggles with him.  She grabs a whip and slashes his face twice.  She grabs a scythe and tells Phil:  "Stay away or I'll kill you!"  He tears her dress completely open and pushes her down into the hay.  Then he just walks out of the barn.  She gathers her things and leaves.  He says nothing to her. 

She walks along the river until she finds Kolya in the boat.  


Part II. 

Chapter 9.  Nikolai, Afanasy's Son.  The Thirties. 

More scenes of fighting.  Lenin dies.  Stalin is one of the pallbearers. 

The road to nowhere still stands in the forest.  A burial marker for Afanasy Ustyuzhanin is standing.  A young boy and a young man come up river in a motor boat.  The man says:  "This is your homeland, son!"  Someone takes a shot at the man from the village.  The two jump behind a felled tree.  Later the man goes up to the gate.  They open the door and soon realize it is Kolya.  They want to know where Nastya is.  Kolya thanks them for beating him and throwing him out of the village.  And here's your grandson  --  Alexei Ustyuzhanin.  They still want to know where Nastya is.  Kolya says:  "Nastya died heroically in the revolutionary storm." 

Chapter 10.  A Vote.

Nikolai talks to the men of the village.  He says Siberia is a rough land, but not a poor one.  The scientists say that Siberia has oil, gas, metals, ore, gold and so on.  They've decided to develop the marshlands.  And their village of Elan has an important part to play in this development.  Tomorrow they will start building a road through the marshland.  They'll drag the drilling rig along that road.  The men want to know if they will be paid and how much.  Yes.  And enough to buy bread.  Soon arguments develop among the men and they start fighting each other.  Nikolai tells them to stop it and his aide pounds his gun on the table.  That stops the fighting.  They will use his father's old road.  A man objects saying that it leads to the Devil's Mane, but once father Solomin is for it, the others follow along. 

Spiridon remains behind in the cabin.  He wants to know more about the death of Nastya.  She was burned near Argun.  White Cossacks.  She was captured in the infirmary.  They poured alcohol on her in the freezing cold and set her on fire.  "She lit up like a torch."  Spiridon says:  "I'll never forgive you for Anastasia." 

Phil Solomin enrolled in an academy and married a city girl.  His father shows Nikolai a photo of Phil.  At night Nikolai dreams of Anastasia 

Chapter 11.  Spiridon's Refusal.

Nikolai oversleeps.  By the time he gets up the men are already sitting in the cabin.  Spiridon does not show up, claiming he is sick.  Nikolai goes to see Spiridon, but he still refuses to go.  Alexi comes in with his rifle.  He says that Spiridon is a contra  -- someone who is against Soviet power under Stalin.  He wants him to stand against the wall.  Nikolai tells Spiridon that he is arresting him and sending him to the city.  Alexi guards his uncle.   Nikolai confiscates the Solomin's collection of animal furs.  Under the new government the people own the forest and the animals in it. 

Spiridon decides to tell Alexi how his mother died.   She was killed, he says.  He starts to approach Alexi, who warns him he will shoot.  Nikolai and the villagers hear a shot.  Alexi fired a warning shot.  It looks as if he may have wounded Spiridon in his right hand. 

Spiridon is tied up and placed in a boat.  Some of the village women cry.  He and a guard head downstream. 

Chapter 12.  The Swamp.

The village men work on the road.  One tree after another goes down.  The men are upset by the howling minds.  They start getting scared of taking the road to the Mane.  Nikolai tells them to come out of their world of prejudice and superstition. It's a new day.  Father Solomin seems to be losing his mind.  He hacks away with his ax in a completely random way.  Alexis takes a religious picture out of the hands of one of the villagers and throws it into the fire.   He says there is no God!  A large group of the villagers run off.  Nikolai screams at them.  What are they afraid of?  It's nothing but a swamp.  The men dare him to go to the Mane and return. 

So off go Nikolai and his son through the swamps.  Alexi gets tired of the tramp through the wetlands and wants to go back.  He says they should turn back and tell the men that they reached the Mane.  Nikolai says he won't lie.  He wants to see the Mane personally.  His son says dad can go, but he's not going.  Nikolai heads off by himself.  By himself, Alexi starts to get sick.  Then he gets lost. He yells for his father, but there is no answer.  Alexi thinks he sees two men.  He starts running from the men.  He tries to fight of what he thinks is an attacker, but it turns out to be his own father.  Now dad admits that they won't be able to reach the Mane.  It looks like Nikolai received a nasty wound to the left side of his face.  Alexi starts to smoke.  When he throws the butt into the swamp it immediately lights on fire.  Soon there is a terrible fire in the swampland.   

Chapter 13.  Legacy.

Nikolai and Alexi are back in the village.  At night Nikolai wakes up his son.  "We need to make a decision about the Mane."  Maybe he should go to the regional committee and ask for help.  He then says he should never have arrested Spiridon.  He warned him about going to the Mane.   He ends up deciding to keep on chopping.  Alexi says he wants to go back to the city and the orphanage. 

In the morning Alexi goes to look for his father.  Spiridon with bloody hands grabs him.  Alexi tells him to let him go.  Then Alexi runs off thinking that Spiridon killed his father.  He gets in a boat and paddles downstream.  Spiridon paddles after him.  He catches him.  Alexi says he will get Spiridon for what he did.  Spiridon lets him go. 

More newsreel footage.  The trains roll on.  Men work hard in factories.  The Nazis rise to power.  WWII begins.     

Chapter 14.  Taya.  The Forties.

Elan village.  A burial marker says:  "Buried here is the body of God's servant Yerofey Solomin."  A naked woman swims in the river.  When she comes out of the water she finds the body of a young man.   She brings the Eternal Old Man to see the body, but the fellow is not dead.  The old man drags the body along the path.  When the young man awakens the old man feeds him honey and honey comb.  The young fellow wants to find Spiridon Solomin.  He's in jail and has been for the past five plus years for killing your father Nikolai.  His full sentence is ten years in jail and then five years of hard labor.  Alexis says:  "I'll get him when he comes out."  The old man starts grabbing Alexi and the young man figures he's nuts.  He is leaving.  He says he won't spend his youth in their swamps. 

He starts walking on his grandfather's road.  It brings back memories. 

Chapter 15.  Last Dance. 

There is a burial sign in Elan Village that says:  "Bolshevik Nikolai Ustyuzhanin fell at the heinous hand of his class enemy."  Alexi puts some music on as he sits by the marker.  The music attracts the young girl, Taya, to see what is happening.  He stops the music and closes the case.  Taya walks over to him.  She wants to hear the music.  He looks at geese in the sky and she holds his arm, which surprises Alexi. 

A barge heads upstream filled with new recruits for the Red Army.  Two recruiters go up to Elan Village.  In the loft of a barn Alexi tells the red-headed girl that he will teach her to dance.  But she would rather play-wrestle with him.  Alexi bumps his head.  He calls her a country bumpkin.  So, Taya asks him to teach her to dance.  But again she has other things on her mind than dancing. 

The recruiters have set up shop in the village.  One of them asks a villager if that is everyone?  He thinks so.  On June 22, the Soviet Union was attacked by Nazi Germany.  The villagers didn't even know this.  The recruiter looks at them in disbelief.  One villager explains that they live on the edge of the world.  The war has been going on for two weeks, the recruiter say.  Alexi and the red-head do a sort of primitive slow dance. 

Chapter 16.  The Draft.

A Soviet trooper gets off a boat filled with soldiers.  A man named Guriev, a worker on the oil rig, tries to tell the recruiter to just give him an d his men just three more days and they will show there is plenty oil beneath the Devil's Mane.  The officer only tells him that it is not allowed.  Guriev pleads with him that the drilling will give the country the oil it needs to fight the Germans.  No, those are not his orders.  He adds that battles are going on at Smolensk. 

Alexi runs out of the village gate shouting to the soldiers to wait for him.  He tells the recruiter:  "Sign me up for war!"  But Alexi is underage.  Alexi insists that the man sign him up.  The recruiter finally gives in and says:  "Go ahead."  Alexi smiles.  He gets his hair cut off and a glass of alcohol of some type.  The red haired girl  runs down to the river bank shouting for Alexi.  He rushes over to the side of the barge with all the other young men.  Taya shouts to him:  "Will you come back?"  He yells back:  "Will you wait for me?"  She shouts:  "I'll be waiting for you my whole life!"  She then trips and falls in the sand.  All the men laugh.  She cries and laughs at the same time. 

From a mountain viewpoint the old man sees the barge heading downstream.  He says:  "Ah, kids!"

Part 17.  The War.

A sign says Forbidden Area.  A young Russian soldier walks through water taking weapons from the dead German soldiers.  He keep shouting for his captain.  He finally finds him and asks him why didn't he respond.  The captain asks for water.  Alexi gives him some water but he spits it out again.  His guts are exposed.  Alexi drags the captain who is laying on a tarp.  He has to dive among oil barrels to avoid being hit as an airplane strafes the area.  The Germans fire rockets at the area, but Alexi just keeps dragging his captain.  Tanks roll by him and he is so relieved that they are his guys and not the Germans that he cries.   

A high ranking officer examines the very badly wounded captain.  He is told that Private Ustyuzhanin rescued the captain.  The officer pins a medal on Alexi, saying do you know who you saved?  "Your country will never forget this."  He grabs Alexi's face between his two hands, kisses him on the cheek and leaves.  Alexi says he is happy to serve the Soviet Union.

War footage on the fighting.  It shows the Russians heading into Berlin.  And the the warm receptions back home when the Russian soldiers return.  On a train car heading home Alexi celebrates the homecoming by joining in on the singing and dancing.  He says it's over and now a beautiful life will start.  And back home Taya runs to the mountain cliff to look for his arrival.


Siberian Saga II.   

Part III. 

Chapter 18.  Alexei, Nikolai's son. The sixties.   

Film of great work projects taking place in the Soviet Union. Industrial expansion continues.  The Russians start their space program. 

On a barge filled with heavy earth moving machines, Tofik speaks with Alexi.  He never realized Alexi had so many medals.  Alexi says he has not been in his village for twenty years.  Elan is his homeland.  He gets his crew up telling them his home is nearby.  When they dock Alexi insists on being the first to get off the barge.  But when he walks on the plank it tilts and casts him into the water.  The entire crew break up in big guffaws. 

They start unloading the barge of the heavy equipment.  Tofik drives the bulldozer and Alexi hops on. 

Part 19.  Reunited. 

A tractor pulls up to the gates of the village.  Alexi jumps out to check the gate.  It's not locked, so he tells Tofik the driver to just push through it.  Tofik jumps out of the bulldozer and objects to crashing through the gates.  So Alexi gets in the driver's seat.  The bulldozer pushes through the gates easily.  Alexi jumps off the still moving bull dozer and shouts:  "Greetings, fellow countrymen, from Caspian oil workers! . . .   Greetings to village workers!  New machines are plowing Siberia's expanses!" 

A man shouts:  "What do you S.O.B.s think you're doing?"  He wants to know why the hell did they break the gate?  Taya walks over to the group composed of Alexi and some older women.  Alexi is a real jokester and prankster.   Alexi doesn't recognize Taya.  He asks her:  "So whose are you?"  She answers back:  "Not yours surely."  Alexi tells her not to be so sure.  They will be here for half a year, so anything's possible.  He continues:  So, you are a Solomin girl?  Solomin redheads are the best girls in Siberia.   She reveals that she knows his name.  She adds:  "And we know if a skirt chaser shows up in Siberia."  Alexi starts realing off some of the many possibilities of who she could be such as:  "Medical battalion, Second Ukrainian front, 1943, right?"  Wrong.  And wrong again.  She gives him a hint.  You taught me to dance in that barn.  He says:  Raya!  She says:  No.  Taya. 

He grabs her by the waist and walks her down the hill to introduce her to Tofik.  The village women comment that Taya is shameless.  Uncle Spiridon, the man who protested the gate's destruction, says hello to Alexi.  Alexi introduces his uncle to Tofik.  Spiridon is the man who killed my father, he says.  Spiridon says he fought in the war in the penal battalion and got a medal.  He starts laughing and asks if Alexi will stab him or possibly shoot him?  Alexi says he won't do a thing other than put up a derrick at the Devil's Mane.  They will find gas and then they will demolish his Elan and put up modern apartment buildings.  Spiridon does not look happy hearing this. 

The crew arrives and they start looking for places to stay in the village.  While Alexi barks orders, Spiridon tells him: "I wish you had killed me then."  Alexi kisses him on the nose and turns to look at the geese flying.   

Part 20.  Rendezvous.

Alexi is out hunting.  He aims at some swans.  Somebody whistles. It's Taya.  She scolds him for trying to shoot swans.  She asks him doesn't he know that it's illegal to shoot swans?  She smiles, throws her arms around his neck and they kiss.  Alexi insists on having sex with her right there in the woods.  After sex they talk.  Taya says she only returned to the village six months ago.  She was a barmaid on a ship.  Taya also says that she had to look after Spiridon.  Why isn't she married, asks Alexi.  She says it's a long story.  Alexi says they should return to the village separately so the gossip won't start about them.  As Alexi leaves, Taya becomes very emotional and almost cries.

Part 21.  Ghost Dream.

Alexi looks for Tofik.  He is at the cemetery.  Alexi tells him to get into the vehicle.  They are going to Devil's Mane.  And now Tofik reveals the truth to Alexi.  They are not going to Devil's Mane.  The oil rig will be put up right in the village.  He says he knows it was a cheap trick.  Alexi is stunned.  He finally says:  "Do it!  Dot it!  Drill through the old man and the old lady.  Into the soul of the Holy Virgin!  Drill!  Drill right here!"   He shakes his finger at Tofik and leaves. 

Alexi starts the journey to the Devil's Mane by himself.  He crushes a lot of the logs on the road that his father and he had build.  When he sees the Eternal Old Man he stops to express his surprise that the man is still alive.  Alexi then asks him how far is Devil's Mane?  No one really knows, is the answer.  Alexi continues his journey .  The armored vehicle pushes over trees very easily and goes through water also with great ease.  But then he gets the vehicle stuck in the mud.  He is disgusted with the situation.  But when he looks up, he sees and old cabin and a small oil derrick.  Alexi says:  "So that's where they drilled."

Alexi walks through the water to get to the cabin.  He goes inside.  Water covers the floor. He sits down at a very old table.  He lays his head on the table, sleeps and dreams.  He dreams of hearing the howl of the wind.  He dreams that someone grabs his shoulder.  And he dreams that he sees his father and calls out to him.  And lastly Alexi sees himself being gobbled up by the vast swamps. 

Part 22.  Work Begins.

Alexi wakes up from sleeping at his desk, but he is not at Devil's Mane.  He is back in the village.  He puts on the radio and listens as Fidel Castro talks about the revolution, Mr. Johnson of the USA and imperialism.    The derrick is up and the men are now test drilling.  Taya comes to visit.  She says that he stepped out of the woods and forgot all about her.  He tells her that it's just that he has been so busy working.  He tells her it was nice seeing her and goodbye.  He goes back to work.  Taya just stands there a bit stunned and disappointed.  She leaves. 

Spiridon looks very glum.  He stares at the oil derrick. 

A funeral is held for an old woman.  Taya is there.  The service is for her grandmother

Part 23.  The Party Decides.

The guard at the airport asks whose car is this?  Solomin's, the Regional Party Committee secretary.   Phil Solomin and another man get off the airplane.  A man is there to greet him.  They take Phil to the meeting.  Another man speaks to him.  He says he has some bad news.  He went to the State Construction Committee.  The Ministry's proposal to build a hydropower station in their region was already voted on by the State Planning Committee.  Permission to start preparatory work was granted.   Phil says so it's that bad.  Phil was going to fly to Siberia, but he cancels that flight.  He is going to speak to the the State Construction Committee.  The building of a hydropower station is being discussed.  Phil realizes that it's already too late.  This will mean that oil exploration is out of the question. His only hope is that they actually find some "real live oil".

The big politician at the meeting congratulates Phil on getting the hyrdopower project accepted.  The important thing, he says, is that Siberia's development is given priority.  He adds:  "But God forbid if you find oil there." 

Phil goes to his hotel room.  On the television the project is discussed and praised.   

Taya goes down to the river.  She wants to buy some gold earrings but they are too expensive.  Alexi is behind her and drops the money on the counter.  She turns around and sees Phil.  Are these for me, she asks. 

They go over to a fellow singing and she joins in.  Then she and Alexi walk together.  Alexi was gone for two months.  He asks if Taya missed him.  She laughs.  He tells her that he has some time now.  She says:  "O.k. Let's go."  She opens the door to her place and Alexi goes in.  He looks at all the photos on the wall.  Alexi says he likes her little house.  Taya is deliberately keeping her distance from him.  She finally says that there was nothing really between them.  It was just a dream of his.  When she goes into another room, Alexi takes off his coat and hat and his shoes and jumps into bed.  But Tofik comes into the dining area and asks if Taya has ironed his pants.  He is surprised to see Alexi in the bed.  Alexi quickly tells him that he is just getting some sleep before his next work shift starts.  They shake hands and talk a bit.  When Tofik speaks to Taya about Alexi, Alexi quickly puts on his clothes.  He leaves saying:  "Make a fool out of him!  It's easier."  Tofik starts yelling at Taya for being with Alexi.  He calls her a floozy.  Taya just hums a tune.  Tofik says as he is leaving that he will kill Taya, then Alexi and then himself. 

Part 24.  Accidents. 

The oil crew has been working 18 months virtually non-stop.  Alexi thinks about Taya.  He says what a fool he was.  And Tofik calls himself my friend, he says.  He will go back from where he was before coming to Elan.  But what about the Devil's Mane?  He says he will keep on drilling there.  Alexi becomes very distracted.  He starts yelling at the men.  A pipe is dropped into the oil drilling hole.  The guy up top comes running down saying it was his fault, but it was really Alexi's fault because he was rushing him.  Alexi tells the man to quite yelling and get his Tofik.  Alexi leaves.  You'll find him at Taya's place. 

Alexi tries to lift one of the gate doors but he can't.  It's too heavy. 

Part IV. 

25.  Philip.  The Sixties. 

Philip goes on a helicopter ride.  His host looks at the wetlands below and says:  "Ah, worthless land."  He adds that he can imagine how proud Phil is to be the Regional Party Secretary.  "Why?" asks Phil.  He says with the new hydropower station his region will be among the country's leaders.  Phil says you can place three countries the size of France in our swamps.  The other fellow says it's about time they developed the Siberian backwoods.  Phil says that much of Siberia is already developed.  The other guy refers to the wet areas as a "hole".  Phil retorts:  "This hole, as you say, is my homeland."  Old women are about the only one's left because the younger ones left for the cities.  Phil says he wants to land and pay his respects.  The other fellow can continue the journey and on the way back they can pick him up. 

Spiridon hears the roar of the plane's engines overhead.  The helicopter lands and Phil goes in.  Spiridon greets him.  He yells at Phil for letting the village deteriorate.  He says once the men find oil they can say goodbye to the village.  Phil explains that the decision was made in Moscow.  When Phil leaves, Spiridon actually says good riddance to the village and the hell with it.   

One old man, Phil's godfather, shoots at Phil, but the women deflect the barrel.  He says:  "You're wasting the land, all our riches!"  The old women welcome Phil, but they want to know if he intends to flood their village?  After all, they would like to live a while longer in the village.  Phil says its "barren land", "waste land".  Spiridon says flood the place. But, Phil, don't lose your position!  He is the only man they have up there with the politicians.  Phil says:  "I, too, have no one but you all."  Phil goes to pay his respects at the graves of his parents. 

26.  Common Ground.

The gravestone says:  "Buried here is the body of God's servant Yermolai Solomin."  The Old Eternal Man stops by to talk with Phil.  He is concerned with what's happening to the land.  He says:  "Ah, people.  They can fly in the sky but still haven't learned how to behave on the ground."  Won't Phil be upset to see the land flooded?  Phil says:  "At least it will get rid of the gnats." 

Phil sits down by one of the cabins and says he's ruined it.  Ruined the land; it will be flooded.  He now regrets he didn't stand his ground and fight for the village.  He feels so ashamed.  Phil remembers Nastya swinging on the swing during a rain. 

Alexi runs up the hill with a case of liquor.  He asks Phil his name.  Then he asks him for some help with the case.  Phil helps him.  Alexi says Tofik is going to be very mad when he learns that he wrecked some equipment.    For two days Tofik has been trying to get the plug out of the drill hole.  All of a sudden Alexi says that Phil's face looks familiar, but he can't quite place him.  Phil asks him why they put the oil derrick right next to the cemetery  -- a holy place.  Alexi tells him that some bureaucrat poked his finger down on a map and that is where they had to drill.  Actually the derrick was closer to the cemetery before.  Tofik moved it farther away.  There is no oil here, says Alexi, but there is at the Devil's Mane. Alexi explains who he is and Phil realizes that this is Nikolai's son, the son of his rival for the heart of Nastya.  Phil still won't say who he is. 

27.  Apology.

Tofik is at work on the oil rig.  Alexi and Phil carry the case down to the rig.  Alexi shouts to the men that he has come to say goodbye.  He is leaving tomorrow.  But he receives a cold reception.  He goes over to Phil and tells him I-told-you-so.  Phil nods his head and says uh-huh.  Tofik comes and says he won't let Alexi leave until he has cleaned up his sh. . .  He grabs the two champagne bottles from Alexi's hands and busts them on some oil pipes.  Phil says hello to Tofik.  Tofki has a big grin on his face and says:  "Philip Yermolaevicyh."    He says he can't believe the party secretary is here at his project. 

Tofik is upset when he learns that the whole area will indeed be flooded and his project will be coming to an end.  Tofik is upset.  He says that this location is a promising one.  Phil tells him to give him some oil.  A bucketful at least.  Phil asks whose fault was the accident.  Tofik says it was his fault.  Phil says to him:  "You're a liar to boot!"

Phil goes over to see Alexi.  Now Alexi knows he is talking to the big party secretary.  Phil talks to him awhile, drinks to the memory of Alexi's father and leaves. 

28.  Back at the Kremlin.

Phil flies back to Moscow.  On the way he sees Afanya's road through the taiga. 

Phil is back at the Kremlin.  His boss wants an explanation.  There was an article in Phil's regional newspaper opposing the construction of the hydropower dam.  On that same day there was a delay in construction and they couldn't find him (Phil).  The boss says that Phil is not the man to run an entire region because he forgets the job is also a matter of politics.  Phil answers back that it is a mistake to put such a vast hydropower project where there are so many natural resources that will be covered by water.  The boss says they haven't found any oil.  He says there's oil there and they could find it if Moscow would untie the hands of those who have spent a lifetime studying Siberia.  He asks his boss to back him up.  And if they don't find oil?  You can't be exiled farther out than Siberia, says Phil.

 29.  Resignation.

Alexi resigns himself that there is no oil in the location they are drilling.  It's the oil crew's last day.  Alexi goes in to Tofik to ask if he has been forgiven now.  Yes, he has.  So Alexi puts his letter of resignation on Tofik's table and asks him to sign it.  Tofik says they can drill at Devil's Mane without him.  Alexi says he doesn't believe him.  He hasn't the guts to drill there.  Tofik tricked him once into leaving Tataria, but he won't fool him again. 

Alexi wants Tofik to admit that they came to odds because of the woman Taya.  Tofik totally denies it.  He even says that he can stay in Elan.  "I've never taken anyone's leftovers." 

Alexi goes to say goodbye to the crew members.  They ask Alexi to run the drill just one more time.  Alexi does so.  Tofik looks on and the men seem uneasy.  Alexi stops working. 

30.  Proposal. 

Alexi sits on the dock ready to leave.  He looks back toward the village.  He goes to speak to Taya one last time.  She is happy to see him.  He tells her he's leaving.  Yes, he's off to Sochi.  "I've come for you, Taya, pack up."  She tells Alexi that she waited for six years for him after the war.  Then she got a job on a ship to try to find him in Sochi.    Alexi says actually he has never set foot in Sochi.  He asks her to marry him.  She says he won't have her.  She is pregnant.  From whom?  She doesn't know.  Alexi is upset, but then he tells her that he will take her the way she is.  Get packed.  She says she won't go, that she doesn't want him.  Nor does she need him.  Phil virtually runs out of the place.  She shouts to him:  "What?  You're leaving already?"  He shouts back:  "You're a fool to let your chance slip."

31.  A Gusher!

Walking through the snow, Alexi hears a great roar.  It's a gusher!  He runs to the oil rig.  He gets all oily along with Tofik.  Then a huge fires busts out.  The derrick falls followed by more explosions.  (This scene was shown at the start of the film.)  Some men are trapped by the fallen derrick.  Alexi rushes to get the crane.  He works with another man to pull part of the derrick up so that the men can pull the injured man to safety.  In the process, however, Alexi catches fire.   The tractor falls to one side. 

At the party meeting a mans speaks of how Siberia is rich in oil and natural gas.  Phil receives a telegram that the Elan site has yielded a gush of oil and gas.  Driller Alexei Ustyuzhanin died trying to stop the gushing. 

Phil steps to the speaker's platform.  He tells the audience that he has just received a telegram.  "Siberia does have oil.  Plenty of it."  His boss asks him why he is so quiet?  Phil says that a Siberian, a war veteran, a master driller, a simple working man died in the discovery of the oil. He says to the audience:  "Let's stand up to honor his memory."  They stand up.   

32.  Home at Last. 

A truck shoots chemicals out the rear to fight the oil and gas fire near Elan.  From the village Taya watches the huge flames in the distance.  Spiridon says:  "That's the end of them Ustyuzhanins."  Taya says it is not the end.  She is carrying Alexi's child.  Spiridon stumbles backwards.  He keeps his eyes on Taya as he walks away from her.  Soldiers from nearby arrive and keep the villagers away from the roaring flames. 

Phil arrives.  The villagers complain to him that the soldiers won't let them in.  The cemetery is threatened.  The soldiers let Phil through and some of the villagers with him.  They are still upset and Phil asks them why.  With the discovery of oil they have saved their region from the hydropower project and the flooding.  Men in fire suits as well as others work to save the agricultural fowl.  A bulldozer comes in and knock over many of the headstones.  Phil imagines that he sees his father and his brothers and that he gets a kiss from Nastya.  He also sees some of his war time buddies.  And then he sees Alexi and gets a hug from him. 

The films ends with some more archive film. 


Good film.  It does cover a long period of history, but the village is located in Siberia.  The events were mostly far away from Siberia.  The villagers are almost completely isolated, except for the occasional visitor.  They often do not hear of historical events until long after they are over.  They did not know that the Soviet Union was at war with Hitler's Germany until the army recruiter told them more than two weeks after the fact.  The village young men went off to World Wars, but Siberia was not directly exposed to the horrors of war.   The village and villagers are also isolated from the effects of modernization.  Even when the oil rigs came in the village did not essentially change.  The biggest change was that the young people started leaving the village for the cities in greater numbers, leaving a much older population behind. 

The love stories?  Well the one between Nastya and Kolya was interesting.  But that was about it.  The other love stories were just barely love stories and certainly so if you compare them to the love story  between  Nastya and Kolya.  It seems to me if you love someone you ought to sit down with them and discuss the matter seriously to know exactly or near-exactly where you stand.  There was a lot of miscommunication and failure to express one's feelings in the film leading to unfulfilled lives. 

The only Soviet rulers mentioned were a unnamed Tsar and the Soviet leaders Lenin and Stalin.  No other leaders were mentioned.  It probably would have been a more interesting story if the focus of the story was near the center of political and historical action in Russia. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.


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