Synopsis by Eleanor Mannikka
In this visually evocative film about the conflicts between modernity and tradition, human feelings and human progress, a hydro-electric project is about to doom a 300-year-old Siberian village to a watery grave as the dam goes into effect and submerges the land. The spirit of the peasants and the past are concentrated in the image of one lone tree that defies almost all attempts to destroy it, and the engineers, who represent an irreversible progress, come walking out of the mist into the village like ghostly messengers of fate. Daria (Stefaniya Stanyuta) is an old woman who refuses to leave -- she washes her house down, preparing it for burial like a corpse, and both she and other elderly women walk into a morning fog as the last boat arrives to carry people to the mainland. Her son Pavel shouts for the disappearing "Matyora" (the name of the island) as he also heads into the mist. In a poignant prologue with significance on several levels, director Elem Klimov shows four men and one woman, wrapped in white, riding in a boat across a fog-covered river in silence. His wife Larissa Shepitko was supposed to direct this film but she and four crew members died in a car accident on the first day of location shooting, July 2, 1979.
dam, human-spirit, modernization, peasant, tradition, tree, village