Ovsyanki (Silent Souls)

Aleksei Fedorchenko’s Silent Souls begins in a small town in West-Central Russia where Miron, the manager of a paper mill, asks his friend Aist to help him cremate his recently deceased wife in the traditional way. The pair set out on a journey cross-country to Lake Nero, where the couple spent their honeymoon. Throughout the journey we are told of the quirky customs of this Russian town, for example, when a woman is to be married, her friends and family tie coloured threads and beads to her pubic hair. The activity is repeated upon the woman’s death.  In this way, the film was tied to its origin. However, the film also showed universality in the emotions it presented, people in mourning, people in love. There was a great sensitivity in the handling of the subject matter as Fedorchenko managed to show the fragility and beauty in human life.

Miron tells memories of his wife on the journey, how he remembered washing her hair in vodka, how she was a obiedient wife and he like that about her. Aist pretends to listen but is actually thinking about the little birds in the cage beside him and his childhood and his dead father who threw his typewriter into the sea (because to do this makes it immortal). The film managed to describe feeling in images, and in doing this, moved the whole audience to tears, and then, to a standing ovation.

-Flossie Topping


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