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Film / Puhdistus

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Puhdistus (English title: The Purge) is a 2007 novel by Finnish writer Sofi Oksanen, adapted to film in 2012, telling the story of two women: Aliide Truu, who has lived through the horrors of the Soviet occupation of Estonia after WW2, and Zara Pekk, who is a victim of sex trafficking by the Russian mafia. Fleeing from her captors, Zara stumbles upon Aliide's hut and is revealed to be her grandniece. This unlocks Aliide's memories and causes her to relate to the young woman.

This film provides example of:

  • Animal Motifs: The fly appears first as an out-of-body dissociation for Aliide, then as her alias as a communist agent, becoming synonymous with her collaboration, and finally appears as the guilt haunting her in her old age.
  • Being Tortured Makes You Evil: After her rape, Aliide is so broken that she marries a communist and later even participates in the above-mentioned Cold-Blooded Torture on her ten-year-old niece. Granted, with a gun to her face, but she still does it.
  • Broken Bird: Played for Drama with both Aliide and Zara.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Gang rapes, beatings and inserting white-hot lightbulbs into the vagina.
  • Comforting The Widower: After Ingel and her daughter are deported to Siberia, Aliide tries to convince the still-hiding Hans to go on a date with her.
  • Dirty Communists: Aliide's enemies are members and collaborators of the Soviet occupation of Estonia, while Zara's pimps are former KGB members.
  • Dirty Cop: Pasha, Zara's pimp, poses as a police inspector.
  • Face–Heel Turn: The jealousy toward her sister and the torture she endures make Aliide side with the communists, at least outwardly. The people in the village definitely believe she's a traitor and spit in her face when they see her. In truth, she is a Fake Defector and continues to hide Hans in the house.
  • Fat Bastard: The party secretary and Zara's last client.
  • Foreshadowing: When Aliide recognizes Zara, the girl tells her that her mother never speaks because she witnessed the horrors of war as a child. Later on she is shown being tortured by Aliide herself well after the war, which rendered her mute.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Aliide is jealous towards her sister Ingel of her husband Hans Pekk. It is part of her motivation to keep him alive.
  • Heroic BSoD:
    • Aliide has several horrible moments of this. After being raped, she stumbles back home, babbling about socks.
    • She also has two as a result of her jealousy toward her sister: one when she sees her for the first time with Hans, and the other when she learns Zara is her grandniece. Both times she goes to angrily chop wood, ishouting "Perkele".
  • Historical Domain Character: In the book, Zara's mother warns her to stay away from black limousines, because once Stalin's successor, Lavrentii Beria, used to drive around in one in order to prey on women. The terror in Linda's voice as well as the fact that she breaks out of her torture-induced mutism implies she was one of his victims.
  • Holding Out for a Hero: Hans and whoever else remains of the Forest Brotherhood hope the West will intervene and save them from the Soviets. They're wrong.
  • La Résistance:
    • Hans Pekk is a guerrilla soldier who fights against the communists.
    • Deconstructed in that help never comes and Hans spends the rest of his life in hiding.
  • Les Collaborateurs: Aliide marries a communist and has her sister's family expelled to Vladivostok (on the other end of the former USSR) so that she can have a safe life. It's not entirely fair to blame her, considering the horrors she went through.
  • Lie Back and Think of England: Aliide, while being raped, whispers to herself "I'm not here" repeatedly. The scene in the book is written as a nightmarish dissociation, describing her as intermittently feeling her rape and details such as the stench of the bag she has over her head, and identifying herself with a fly buzzing around the room and not the woman lying on the floor.
  • Madness Montage: As Pasa continues to pressure Aliide to give away her grandniece, memories of all the painful moments in her life flash through her head before shoots him and his henchman.
  • Never Mess with Granny: Aliide always holds a weapon when checking who's knocking on the door. At the end, she shoots Pasa with her old gun in order to protect her grandniece.
  • The Nose Knows: Not a literal version. When Aliide starts her courtship with Martin, Hans says that it "smells like Russkies" when she's home. Later, when Martin moves into the house, he claims that he smells an enemy when he's around Hans's hideout.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Both women are brutally raped over the course of the film.
  • Survival Mantra: Even in her old age in post 1989 Estonia, Aliide still recites how she's a true communist when faced with a stranger asking questions.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist:
    • Martin Truu, Aliide's husband and an ardent Stalinist fanatic, seems blissfully unaware of the brutalities that the communists are committing in the village. It is either that or Dissonant Serenity.
    • More probably the former, as the party secretary tells Aliide that her husband will be kept in the dark about the torture.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Implied for Zara's mother. After being tortured by her aunt as a child, she is deported to Siberia with her mother. You'd think the horrors would have stopped, but she's terrified enough of black limousines (like that of Lavrentii Beria, Stalin's successor and an infamous sexual predator) to break out of her mutism enough to warn her daughter.