Thursday, 25 November 2010

Vera Glagoleva: One War - Одна война (2009)

Director: Vera Glagoleva
Actors: Aleksandr Baluyev, Natalia Surkov, Michael Dull, Natalia Kudryashova, Xenia Surkov, Julia Melnikova, Fedor Koposov, Anna Nahapetova
Year: 2009

For nearly a decade now, Russian filmmakers have engaged in penetrating exposés of the untold history of the Great Patriotic War. The topics covered include the penal battalions, the treatment of German civilians and POWs, the poor training of naïve young recruits, commanders’ callous disregard for Russian lives, collaboration, the role of the security police, and so on. Vera Glagoleva adds to this rich and provocative body of work the tale of what happened to women who bore children to the fascist enemy.
One War has a simple plot, which unfolds over three days, 8-10 May 1945. Five women, along with their young children, have been exiled to a small island on Lake Ladoga for the crime of sleeping with German soldiers. Their corrective labor consists of gutting, scaling, and drying fish. They are guarded by a single, disabled sergeant (Aleksandr Baluev). This monotonous routine is interrupted by the arrival of an NKVD major (Mikhail Khmurov), who has come to round up the women and send them to the gulag. Their children will be placed in orphanages. The next day, the women are, however, allowed to celebrate the Victory, although the major refuses an invitation to join their modest festivities. Early the following morning (10 May), the sergeant flees with the women and children while the major watches silently from a rocky promontory.
One War presented this reviewer with a conundrum. On the one hand, the film tells a little-known story that has built-in emotional resonance. Ruslan Gerasimenikov’s cinematography is exquisite and painterly; the film’s acting is, likewise, very strong. One War has been a selection in a number of international film festivals and has garnered awards, most notably the Grand Prix at the Sofia International Film Festival.
Reviewd by Denise J. Youngblood © 2010 in KinoKultura

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