Synopsis by Clarke Fountain
Despite some technical problems and a lackluster performance by the American lead, George Segal, this film was sought out with interest by Russian viewers, as it contained quite a few elements of the supernatural and the mystical in it - elements that had long been banished from Soviet cinema. The Russian release title Feofaniya, Risuyushchaya Smert literally means, "Feofaniya who paints death." The story is set in 11th-century Siberia, where Christianity is just beginning to make an impact, and it concerns the romantic rivalry of the local priest Agafangel (Nikolai Kochegarov) with the pagan chieftain Grigory (George Segal) for the affections of Feofania (Tamara Tana), who is a witch, a painter, a healer, and has a mystical power over living and dead objects. Russian critics were enthusiastic about this "arty thriller" which purportedly contains elements of philosophical fable, mystery, romantic drama and a horror film, but it was panned by a western reviewer who saw it at the 1991 Cannes Film Festival.