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Film: Siberiade

Siberiade (Сибириада, Sibiriada) is a 1978 Soviet epic drama directed by Andrei Konchalovsky. It is the story of life in a small Siberian village over three generations and sixty years, 1904-1964.

The small village of Yelan lies by a river in the heart of the Siberian taiga. It is isolated and remote, cut off from the outside world by the sheer vastness of the Russian steppe. The story begins in 1904, and focuses on two feuding families, the Solomins and the Ustyuzhanins, with the forme being the richest family in the village and the latter being poor. Afonya Ustyuzhanin is something of a Cloud Cuckoolander, who once lived as a hunter but now spends all his time building, by himself, a literal road to nowhere in the forest. Despite the enmity between the clans, his son Nikolai ("Kolya") falls in love with Anastasia ("Nastya") Solomina, who is also being pursued by Phil Solomin, one of her more distant relations. Kolya is banished from the village for pissing the Solomins off, but returns many years later with his son Alexei.

Kolya embraced Red October with enthusiasm, and is now working for the Soviet regime, trying to find oil and natural gas deposits in the countryside around Yelan. Spiridon Solomin, Nastya's brother, hates him for taking Nastya away, and opposes his efforts to organize the village for oil drilling work. Kolya' son Alexei eventually falls for Taya, another beautiful Solomin woman, but The Great Patriotic War separates them.

This film was a critical hit at Cannes. The main theme by Eduard Artemyev would later on be remixed by PPK into the song "Resurrection."

Tropes:

  • Action Prologue: This movie, which is for the most part pretty slow-paced, opens with the spectacular fire and explosion at the oil derrick, before jumping back to 1904.
  • Cigarette of Anxiety: In 1904, the tsarist police find Klimentov the revolutionary hiding out in the village. Klimentov takes a bomb out of his coat. The tsarist officer affects nonchalance and starts to roll a cigarette, but his hands are shaking badly.
  • The Cloud Cuckoolander Was Right: The road that Afonya is hacking through the forest by himself for no damn reason winds up being the road that the government uses to facilitate access to the area, when opening it for oil exploration.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: Both Kolya and later his son Alexei believe that the Devil's Mane, a swmapy area that the peasants are superstitiously afraid of, is where the oil and gas will be found. Whenever they try and go there, the film shifts from color to sepia tones, making the whole place seem very creepy.
  • Elderly Immortal: Apparently the case with the Eternal Old Man, who is called exactly that in the credits. The old man, who seems to dwell in the forest, was an old man in 1904 and, much to Alexei's shock, is still an old man sixty years later.
  • The Epic: A four-hour movie that recounts the history of a small Siberian village over three generations.
  • Feuding Families: The Solomins and the Ustyuzhanins, but that doesn't stop Kolya-Nastya and later Alexei-Taya from falling in love.
  • Hiroshima as a Unit of Measure: A journey of 500 versts (a Russian measurement equal to 1.06 km) is also described as "six goose flights".
  • Near-Rape Experience: Phil grabs Nastya, rips her dress apart, and throws her down on the hay in the barn. Then he seems to come to his senses, and walks out.
  • Red October: Happens far away in European Russia. The peasants in the village are surprised to hear about it. Kolya's enthusiasm for the revolution drives a wedge between him and Nastya.
  • Sexy Soaked Shirt: Nastya's white cotton shift clings to her body after it starts to rain.
  • Scenery Gorn: The oil derrick fire is quite impressive.
  • Scenery Porn: Beautiful shots of the village and the Siberian countryside.
  • Skinnydipping: Young Tatya, bathing in the river.
  • Someone to Remember Him By: After Alexei is killed, bitter old Spiridon notes that this is the last of the Ustyuzhanins. Taya corrects him, saying that she's carrying Alexei's baby.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Alexei and Taya, who are separated by the war and don't see each other for nearly 20 years. When Alexei finally returns to his village, they fall in love again, only for Alexei to be killed in the oil rig fire.
  • Stock Footage: Used for the Time Compression Montages.
  • Swing Low Sweet Harriet: Nastya rejects Kolya, and says she'll marry Phil, while swinging on a swing. This mixes with Sexy Soaked Shirt (see above) after it starts to rain.
  • Time-Compression Montage: Used for the time skips. The great historical moments that are happening far away are shown via Stock Footage montages: World War I, Red October, the Russian Civil War, Stalin's industrialization program in The Thirties, World War II, post-war industrialization and rebuilding, and Yuri Gagarin's flight in 1961.
  • Vodka Drunkenski: One of the villagers is an alcoholic who is continually being ripped off by the Solomins, who take his pelts in exchange for vodka.