Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Yuri Chulyukin:The Girls - Девчата (1961)

Director: Yuri Chulyukin
Cast: Nadezhda Rumyantseva, Nikolai Rybnikov, Lyusiena Ovchinnikova, Stanislav Khitrov, Inna Makarova, Nina Menshikova

Devchata is a romantic comedy set in an isolated Russian logging camp, c. the late 1950s. A pig-tailed young girl - Tosya (Nadezhda Rumiantseva)- arrives from school with a cooking degree, and joins a group of other women who work in jobs supporting the loggers. Tosya's naivete is reflected in the first exchange we see, where the official who shows her to her quarters seems exasperated when he finds that she has not brought a pillow. Tosya is assigned as a cook for the camp. Once in her dorm-like room, she cheerfully prepares herself a meal of tea and a giant loaf of bread slathered with jam; all of it from her roommates' food stockpile. When the four other girls return after a day at work, they are generally taken by Tosya's youth and good nature. However, one woman is upset that she is eating her food without permission, and a fight ensues. It is in this scene that we first see another characteristic of Tosya: her fierceness. When the dorm-mate makes some rude comments, Tosya throws a boot at her head without hesitation. This trait is also exhibited a short time later, when Tosya enters the dance hall (the girls call it the "club"). At first, no one will dance with her (probably because she is so short), but eventually she begins to dance with another very tall girl who is also passed up by several young men. ...


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