Dear Comrades

2020 [RUSSIAN]

Drama / History

IMDb Rating 7 10 981

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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by t-viktor212 9 / 10

A despiritualised "Paradise"

The photography in "Dear Comrades" reminds very closely Konchalovsky's 2016 film, Ray (Paradise): 4:3 aspect ratio, black and white, digital camera usage. Yet, the two films are strongly different, although they somehow feel intrinsically connected.

"Dear Comrades" describes a workers strike occured in 1962 in Novocherkassk that was controversially smothered in blood, as seen from the point of view of a local party member (Yuliya Vyotskaya, who also the leading role in "Paradise").

It was impossible for me not to compare this film with Eisenstein's 1925 masterpiece "The Strike", which also features a revolution of the workers but against a zarist government. It is interesting to see how the tables have turned, and that same soviet government that threw over the zarist government acts exactly the same way. The film had also a bit of an "Ida" vibe, again minus the spiritual elements, and the ending sequence felt much like a classic hollywood drama's finale, intentionally so, which I found somewhat fitting to the slightly satyrical nature of the title.

Let me be clear: this film is far from a satyre, it depicts with an almost Bressonian simplicity the dynamics of power and secrecy that were central to the functioning of the Soviet Union.

Unlike the 2016 film, Dear Comrades has no spiritual dimension, it is strongly linked to the presentation of facts, as it should be, given the strong materialist/soviet tone of its story. Similarly to Paradise, though, it shows the brainwashing effects of the Stalinist era: the lead character has, until the end, a nostalgic attitude towards Stalin, whom she defends even when confronted with the gruesome crimes committed in his name.

I hope that Dear Comrades gets distributed widely. Konchalovsky has been directing very outstanding films the whole decade, and this is yet another one of them.

Reviewed by dromasca 10 / 10

Andrey Konchalovskiy is still here

'Dear Comrades' (2020) presented in world wide premiere at the Venice Film Festival where it won the special jury award proves that at the age of 83 Andrey Konchalovskiy is not satisfied with just being a living legend. The screenwriter of the first films of Andrei Tarkovsky, the director who joined Tarkovsky and his own younger brother Nikita Mikhalkov in making outstanding movies in the '70s that signaled in cinema, before Gorbachev's 'glasnost', the thaw that was to come, has returned to Russia in the last decades after a stormy stage in Hollywood and makes a significant film every few years. 'Dear Comrades' is one of the best of his career, a haunting description of a dark episode of totalitarian repression in the Soviet era, a film that can be said to come a few decades too late but is still relevant today, as any good lesson in history is important in the actuality. It is in any case a remarkable film both in content and in the way the message is transformed into images and transmitted to viewers.

The confusion of values and the gap between ideals and reality dominate the film. The period in which the action takes place is one of those considered relatively 'liberal' in the history of the USSR, the one in which Khrushchev was in power. He had denounced Stalin's crimes (to which he had been an accomplice at least through passivity) after his death, but continued a policy of competition with the West outside and of repression inside. In order to achieve their ambitious economic plans, the Soviet leaders subjected the population to severe economic shortages and any attempt at revolt was suppressed, if necessary by force. Confusion reigned among the population. "In Stalin's time, prices were falling, now they are rising," we hear Soviet citizens in the Don area where the film's action takes place complaining. Young people and workers naively believe in the apparent democratization and in the rights enshrined in the Constitution, but when they claim them and resort to strikes and demonstrations to protest against economic problems, the response of the party and of and its tools of repression are bullets and arrests. Lyuda, the main heroine of the film (played exceptionally by Yuliya Vysotskaya) is an activist in the city party committee, not very important in rank, but significant enough to benefit from direct supply from food warehouses while her fellow citizens stand in endless lines for anything . She is indoctrinated and longs for Stalin ('in his time I knew who the enemies were'). When her daughter (Yuliya Burova), a factory worker, disappears after the demonstrations are stifled in blood, her devotion to the party is put to the test. Her disabled and alcoholic father (Sergei Erlish) keeps in his chest the uniform of the Cossack and the icon of the Mother of God on the Don, connections hidden in fear with a past that the authorities want forgotten and buried. Ideological dilemmas and gaps dominate the relations between generations in the conditions in which truth cannot be spoken even between parents and children within the walls of their own homes.

The cinematography is cold, almost documentary. Konchalovskiy uses black and white film and the 4: 3 screen format specific to the Mosfilm studios in the years when the story takes place. The endless meetings of the party bureaucracy, corruption and cowardice of activists, the intervention of the leaders of the 'center', food queues and material deprivation, fear of the KGB, all these will be familiar to spectators who lived in the Eastern Europe before the fall of Communism. Humanity appears where we do not expect it - human gestures of solidarity of simple people, the refusal of some officers to arm their soldiers against the workers, the KGB member who helps Lyuda in the most difficult moments. What seems different is the ideological confusion that the characters seem to be dominated by. Lyuda is unable to live in a different system of reference than the communist one ('without communism what are we left with?'). Adoration of Stalin seems to be a kind of Stockholm complex that escapes any logic. Konchalovskiy doesn't even try to explain it. Can this attitude be considered a symbol of Russia's history in the last century? The answers are left to the spectators.

Reviewed by MoviecriticElyn 9 / 10

Secret Soviet crime brilliantly shown

In the movie you can sense the whole crescendo of this Soviet secret crime fo 1962, by following a very eager communist woman , interpreted by director's wife Julija Visotskaya. At first we see her condemning all rebels and even saying that all should be killed. But...she also has a very young, adolescent daughter who is at the square when the shooting occurs... I was not expecting SUCH a good cinema, though. Love the movie, compliments to the team! The added value of the movie is the surreal REAL atmosphere of soviet union. Perfect music choice, almost moving!!! A must see!

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