The film depicts the 1932-33 Soviet-engineered famine in Ukraine, and is based on the novel The Yellow Prince by Vasyl Barka.
Emanuel Levy writes in his blog (edited for spoilers): “Through the eyes of Katrannyk, his wife Kateryna, and their three children, pic shows the devastating effects of the mass famine caused by the state’s seizure of crops. It forcefully chronicles the brutality of Stalin’s army, their raids on fields and physical torture of farmers. Death is everywhere: the ground is covered with bodies; desolate farmers hang themselves on trees.
In its long takes and lyrical style, pic may remind viewers of late Russian director Tarkovsky. Juxtaposing black and white with color, Yanchuk contrasts harsh present with idealized color flashbacks. Pic contains many lyrical and expressive tableaux, like one depicting the entire family eating out of a single soup bowl.
Occasionally, the helmer loses grip of his story and gets carried away with visual documentation. Using familiar imagery from docus about the Holocaust, Yanchuk consciously establishes a link between genocides conducted by Stalin and Hitler.
Shot on location in the Ukraine, stylized pic is filled with visual pleasures. Borotin and Kretov’s camera takes on an aggressive personality of its own, panning across the landscapes, showing characters in impressive long-shots, then scrutinizing their faces in intimate close-ups. Evocative lensing is aided by proficient editing that smoothly integrate flashbacks into the story.”
1.67GB | 1 h 35 min | 765×574 | mkv