Synopsis by Eleanor Mannikka
Director Irina Poplavskaya adapted an autobiographical novel by author Valentin Rasputin for this film on his parents, a couple living in Siberia. The heroine is Valentin's mother, Vasilisa (Olga Ostroumova), a young wife who works hard for her growing family and her friends, and is admired by the villagers. Before she married Vasily (Mikhail Kononov) she was an outdoors woman, working in wheat fields and carting water from the river. Vasily, on the other hand, was not so devoted to hard labor, whether indoors or out, and is more of a poet. The couple fall in love and marry, and after the wedding they unavoidably embark on a family -- as child after child is born (adding up to a total of seven in the end). The new family responsibilities do not sit well with Vasily, and he takes to drinking and beating up his wife -- whom he loves -- in drunken fits. When she has a miscarriage because of one of these beatings, she banishes him to their outdoor shed where he must spend his days and nights, period. The Great War (World War II) cuts into Siberian life as men go off to war and several do not come back, including two of Vasilisa's sons. She and Vasily remain estranged when he returns from the war, yet both suffer, along with everyone else, when food becomes scarce and famine threatens many with starvation. Vasily and Vasilisa will reconcile, but it will take a few decades before that happens.