Heat | Chicago Reader


Larisa Shepitko's 1963 feature dwells on the stereotypical Soviet triangle—a boy, a girl, and a tractor—but also manages a critique of Stalinism and some powerfully expressive imagery. The idealistic Kemel, just out of high school, arrives at an arid collective farm and clashes with the cynical leader, Abakir, whose arbitrary cruelty—and mustache—recall Uncle Joe himself (their goal, he says, is to “prove to future generations that even alfalfa won't grow . . . on this dead land”). The young man finds romance, but there are probably more close-ups of the tractor and plow than of him or his girlfriend. While Shepitko's tilted shots and rapid cutting reveal a debt to Eisenstein, her gently lyrical compositions express an elemental relationship among machines, humans, land, and sky. In Russian with subtitles. 85 min.

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