1961-1970ArthouseDramaLarisa ShepitkoUSSR

Larisa Shepitko – Znoy (1963)

Heat was Shepitko’s diploma feature, her extraordinary talent underlined by its unprecedented success, winning prizes at the Leningrad and Karlovy Vary Film Festivals. It was also made in gruelling conditions on the barren steppes, the young director falling ill and having to direct from a stretcher. The story fuses serious political drama and cowboy showdown as an idealistic high school graduate goes to work on a state farm, only to clash with its authoritarian, Stalinist leader.

Shepitko was sent to Kyrgyzstan to produce her VGIK graduate thesis film, possibly in order to stimulate the development of a film industry in that territory. Heat was produced by Kirghizfilm Studios and based on a story by Chinghiz Aitmatov, a Soviet-Kyrgyz author. The film was controversial for its frank portrayal of generational conflicts and won a few domestic prizes. The plot centers on Abakir, a paragon of socialist virtue, and the conflicts he encounters with a younger, freer generation when a young student comes to work on his farm. They clash over the implementation of new agricultural techniques; while Abakir attempts to cull the favor of the state party authorities, the younger man truly believes in the development of the region, though many of his progressive methods clearly don’t work. Nature and landscape dominate the movie: the searing temperatures that scald the land drive the tension of human relationships to the boiling point and dictate farming methods more intensely than any party decree. The heat on set was genuinely severe: Shepitko fainted from heat exhaustion several times, and eventually became so ill that she had to direct from a stretcher carried around set. Though the film is no masterpiece, it contains many elements of Shepitko’s distinctive visual style: unusual low-angle shots of human subjects, black and white film, a shaky handheld camera on follow shots, provocative and thoughtful framing.

Elem Klimov, also a student at VGIK and later a highly respected director in his own right, helped her with the production of Heat; they married in 1963 after production finished.

700MB | 1h 16mn | 640×480 | avi


Subtitles:Italian hard subs,English

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