Siberiade | Chicago Reader


Andrei Konchalovsky's 1979 Russian epic doesn't reimagine the cliches of the form so much as reinvigorate them: much of what he's dealing with is pure schlock, but it's handled with such conviction and exuberance that the schlock regains its emotional validity. The film tells of two families in a remote Siberian village—one moneyed, one poor—and what happens to them over the course of 50 years, and 210 minutes of screen time (183 minutes in U.S.-release prints). The style goes through changes too—from pastoral lyricism to social realism to sheer screaming gothic. Yet the director keeps the themes and visual motifs in perfect control; the climax pays off with power and glory. An astounding achievement in one of the most limited genres known to man, the state-sanctioned national saga. In Russian with subtitles.

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