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The Return ( Vozvrashcheniye )

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  • Actors: Vladimir Garin, Ivan Dobronravov, Konstantin Lavronenko, Natalya Vdovina, Yelizaveta Aleksandrova
  • Directors: Andrei Zvyagintsev
  • Producers: The Return ( Vozvrashchenie ), The Return, Vozvrashchenie
  • Format: Import, PAL, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 15
  • Run Time: 110.00 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001L1XIDI
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 349,749 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Australia released, PAL/Region 0 DVD: LANGUAGES: Russian ( Dolby Digital 2.0 ), English ( Subtitles ), WIDESCREEN (1.85:1), SPECIAL FEATURES: Behind the scenes, Biographies, Interactive Menu, Photo Gallery, Scene Access, Trailer(s), SYNOPSIS: Russian filmmaker Andrei Zvyagintsev makes his feature-film debut with the bleak psychological drama Vozvrashchenie (The Return). Younger brother Ivan (Ivan Dobronravov) and older brother Andrei (Vladimir Garin) live in a small town with their mother (Natalya Vdovina). One summer, the brothers are surprised by the arrival of their long-lost absent father (Konstantin Lavronenko). Although the boys only know him from an old photograph, he still orders them to accompany him on a fishing trip. The stern father then puts his two sons through a series of endurance tests. Doting Andrei is quick to cooperate, while stubborn Ivan is more reluctant to trust him. Ivan wants to know where he's been and what he's up to. After they travel by boat to a deserted island, the father gets even more mysterious. The Return won the Golden Lion at the Venice International Film Festival in 2003. SCREENED/AWARDED AT: Camerimage Awards, Ceasar Awards, European Film Awards, Film Critics Circle of Australia Awards, Golden Globes, Thessaloniki Film Festival, Venice Film Festival, ...The Return ( Vozvrashchenie )

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By P. R. Gregory on 10 April 2005
Format: DVD
A fine addition to the corpus of Russian cinema, this film charts a week in the life of two brothers whose father returns after an absence of twelve years and takes them on a fishing trip - or is it? The actors playing the brothers are excellent, the cinematography superb - although not a great deal happens, I was kept enthralled by the performances and bleak Baltic landscapes. Definitely one to see - if you're a fan of the Russians!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ellie on 26 July 2006
Format: DVD
Beautiful landscapes, attractive actors (all!) and a story that graps you after 10 minutes. Not very much action though, and not many words either, but this is not art for arts sake - it made me feel like I was there. No happy tied-up endings and the story is full of loose ends too but the feeling of humans moving through a landscape is quite exceptional! The children are amazing.
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful By You caught me procrastinating again on 3 Mar. 2005
Format: DVD
The Return is a stunning yet bleak world, with many loose ends. The brother's perspective on an inexplicably absent father's sudden return, builds a picture of opposite reactions to his reassuming authority. Yet while hints are dropped, the usually crucial questions - why leave, why return - remain unasked. And what did mother know?
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 323 reviews
78 of 84 people found the following review helpful
Haunting 27 April 2005
By Arielle D. - Published on
Format: DVD
There is something about this movie that sticks with you long after you have watched it. Is it the way the story starts? The way it ends? The way your primary expectations are not met, and yet you find something else that you didn't expect? Hard to say, but it eventually matters very little. You are moved, you are disturbed, and you keep thinking about it... It beats those blockbusters that you forgot five minutes after you stepped out of the movie theater by a long shot.

I personally love movies where I am unable to predict anything. How refreshing and disturbing!

It is a movie made by a Russian director, with outstanding Russian actors (the kids!), but there's nothing "Russian" about the story. It is a "universal" story of a father returning to his wife and children after a twelve-year unexplained absence and taking his two sons - to whom he is a perfect stranger since he left when they were very little - on a fishing trip.

From then on, "unexpected" is the guideline and you hold your breath. What is going to be revealed? What is going to happen? How will the three characters deal with their new relationship?

You'll have to watch to find out...

The photography is beautiful, and the score at times adds real power to the images.

A must-see movie for cinema buffs, not for the average "movie goer".
56 of 60 people found the following review helpful
A brilliant debut 30 Oct. 2004
By Ranajoy Raychaudhuri - Published on
Format: DVD
"The Return" is one of the best movies to have recently come out of Russia. Director Andrei Zvyagintsev, who has been compared to Tarkovsky by quite a few critics, does a wonderful job, and so do the three main actors Konstantin Lavronenko (the father) and Vladimir Garin and Ivan Dobronravov (as Andrey and Vanya, the sons).

The movie opens with the two brothers running. They play on the windy lakeshore with their friends, jumping off a tower into the dark water. The younger boy is too scared to jump, but too reluctant to climb down for fear of being branded a chicken. When his worried mom ultimately finds him, he declares that he would have died up there if she hadn't. Life flows by as usual. It changes when the brothers come back home one day and their mom whispers to them, "Be quiet, your father is sleeping". Their father (with suggested links to the Russian mafia) had not been home in the last twelve years and their only recollections about him are from an old black and white photograph. He plans a weeklong fishing trip with the kids to get to know them again. He is a stranger to them, and in contrast to their mother, is someone who doesn't tolerate childhood tantrums and sulking and wants them to grow up and learn to deal with life the hard way. The younger boy has a miserable time, while the elder one is torn between suspicion and the desire to bond with his father. They eventually start out for an island and when the boat's motor splutters and stops, their dad makes them row. Exhausted, they reach the island ... it is here under the grey skies that the story reaches its unexpected climax.

Throughout the movie the atmosphere is gloomy and the dialogue is sparse. The movie was shot in the Siberian pine forests near the border of Russia and Finland, and the overcast sky and the drizzle work to complement the sombre moods of the characters. A lot of what the audience carries away from the movie are only suggested and never explicitly mentioned. At the end of it, we realize that we know hardly anything about the characters that we had been following for the past 105 minutes other than watching their emotions at play. All these work together to transform this thriller into an unsettling psychological study seeped in Russian mysticism.
93 of 105 people found the following review helpful
one of the best films of the decade 21 Feb. 2005
By Roland E. Zwick - Published on
Format: DVD
"The Return," a breathtakingly austere masterpiece from the land that gave us Eisenstein, Pudovkin and Tarkovsky, is one of the most beautifully acted and directed films I have seen in years. Astonishingly enough, this is the feature film debut for director Andrei Zvyagintsev who demonstrates more of a mastery and command of the medium in this his maiden effort than most directors do in a whole body of work.

The film tells the tale of two brothers, Ivan and Andrei, who live with their mother and grandmother in a small coastal village in Russia. One day, totally unexpectedly, the boys' father returns after a twelve-year absence. In an effort to make up for lost time, the dad decides to take his sons on a fishing trip, but, almost immediately, he begins to demonstrate disturbing tendencies towards domination and abuse. He also appears to be up to some sort of nefarious business operations to which neither we nor the boys are entirely privy.

Every single moment of this film is a revelation. Zvyagintsev beautifully captures the opposite ways in which the boys react to and interact with their father. Andrei, the oldest, is so desperate for a father figure in his life that he is willing to overlook the often inexplicable, bizarre and possibly even dangerous behavior that this particular father exhibits. Ivan, on the other hand, embittered by years of absence and neglect, seethes with barely disguised rage at the man who now presumes to enter into their once happy lives and assert his authority. Of the two boys, he seems the most tuned into the kind of threat the father may pose to their welfare. Yet, towards the end of the story, the apparently latent love the boy feels for this man as his father does eventually rise to the surface. Through this intense interaction, the film emerges as a complex and profound study of what father and son relationships are really all about.

It is virtually impossible to put into words just how brilliantly the two young actors use their facial expressions to convey a wealth of meaning and emotion. As portrayed by Vladimir Garin, Andrey looks up to his father with a mixture of boyish pride and trembling awe, longing for the kind of male affirmation he has been deprived of all these years. He is desperate to please his father by proving to him that he can perform the acts of manhood that his dad keeps putting forth for him to do. As Ivan, Ivan Dobronravov spends most of his time glaring at the man, his mouth pursed in a tight unyielding grimace of resentment and hate. If I could give an award for the best performance by a child actor in movie history, these two youngsters would be high on my list of candidates. They are that amazing. Tragically, young Garin drowned two months prior to the release of the film, leaving his indelible mark behind in a performance that will never be forgotten by anyone privileged enough to witness it. Konstantin Lavronenko is equally impressive as the boy's mysterious father, beautifully underplaying the part of a man who can appear sane and rational on the surface but who is a seething cauldron of untapped emotions beneath. In fact, it is this constant threat of violence always on the verge of eruption that keeps us off balance and on edge throughout the entire picture.

The film's writers, Vladimir Moiseyenko and Aleksandr Novotosky, deserve special recognition for not allowing the plot to overwhelm the characters. For this is, first and foremost, a great character study. The scenarists have intentionally left the background of the father vague and sketchy, the better to enhance the sense of mystery and danger he represents. We never find out what nefarious activities he is involved with since that is of virtually no importance either to the children or to us. We are too engrossed in the relationships of the characters to care. In fact, there are a few hints towards the end of the film that this seemingly cold, uncaring man, for all his myriad faults, might actually just love his sons in his own strange way. The film leaves us with no easy answers or pat resolutions at the end. And this is how it should be. In fact, the scriptwriters even throw a few of Hitchcock's prized "MacGuffins" into the mix to keep us off balance (there is a scene in which some possibly stolen money sinks to the bottom of a lake that is highly reminiscent of what happens in "Psycho")..

Among other things, "The Return" represents one of the most impressive directorial debuts since Francois Truffaut`s "The 400 Blows." Zvyagintsev's ability to draw great performances from his actors is only one of his many talents on display here. His lyrical use of composition, as well as the way in which he makes nature and weather an integral part of his drama help to draw us so deeply into this world that it takes the viewer literally hours to get fully back to his own existence again once the movie has ended. It reverberates for days afterwards. For as with any great film, "The Return" finds its way into the depths of one's soul and leaves the viewer a richer person for the experience.

Winner of the Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival (2003), "The Return" is a true work of art and one of the outstanding films of the decade so far. Whatever you do, don't miss this film.
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
A spectacular debut with layer after layer of depth 27 Dec. 2004
By Andy Orrock - Published on
Format: DVD
Andrei Zvyagintsev's 2003 debut, 'Vozvrashcheniye' ('The Return') throws into sharp contrast much of the dreck that has come out of Hollywood for 200 times the cost of Zvyagintsev's reported $500,000 budget. This is an incredible film with layer upon layer of meaning and interpretation. The writers, the cinematographer and director demonstrate nothing short of genius here.

It's tough to even begin to talk about the movie without revealing too much. A father - gone for 12 years - returns. Prison? Mafia? These are the prosaic reasons my wife and I came up with. A 63-minute documentatary on the DVD gives you some insight into the shoot, the funding, how the project came together, etc. But the essence of the film itself - the script, the story concept, its staging - remains inscrutable and opaque. But after seeing the viewer commentary posted on IMDB, I realized that my understanding of the film had only scratched the surface...there are overtly religious overtones at play here (including one spot-on restaging of Andrea Mantegna's "The Dead Christ"), some possible commentary about the last days of Communism vs. the 'new' Russia, and one further interpretation about the brothers and their diary that completely turned the movie on its head and - upon further review and thinking - I now see as a brilliant revelation. Again: it's genius that Zvyagintsev and crew have layered all this in and have us all talking and interpreting and re-thinking.

I had come here with the intention of waxing poetic about the acting skills of 'younger son' Ivan, as played masterfully by Ivan Dobronravov. But nothing I say is going to top the previous reviewer's comment that he makes Haley Joel Osmont (in 'The Sixth Sense') look like the red-headed kid from Different Strokes. Now, that's a brilliant way to state it. Touché, sir!

Tragically, this will be Vladimir Garin's (elder son Andrey) only film. He drowned shortly after the filming completed and before the movie hit the big screen in art houses here in mid-2004. He wasn't as strong an actor as young Dobronravov, but towards the end of the film, you can feel him gaining confidence. The filmmakers even make note of the fact that by the end Garin was leading them. A real tragedy.
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Hitchcock suspense, modern Russian backdrop 2 Nov. 2005
By Antonio B. Ooka Jr. - Published on
Format: DVD
Some reviews call the film boring, plotless,

lacking message. I thought it was a very

simple, but highly imaginative plot.

At times the film moves slowly but it's a

sleeper which climaxes brilliantly and leaves

you stunned.

As for the "message", the "message" may

be lost on Americans because the film's

characters and their problems are quite


The father is a macho, laconic, at times

physically abusive, a drinker--not your

sensitive American type father. He's

quite Russian, actually.

The boys are fatherless for 12 years until

he returns. Why was he gone and why so

casually does he return?

Possibly, he's a Russian mafia type wanted

by authorities or by the mob for a botched

deal or murder.

But the tension of the film seems to lie

in the boys' young minds: why did father

leave us? Does he love us ? Would he hurt

us ? Who is he really ? A criminal ?

This tension is what I mean by "Hitchcock


And the very macho, laconic Russian male

figure adds to the suspense. The father

and the sons do at the end what suppressed

emotional figures tend to do in real life--

they explode with passion.

The theme of fatherless children is very

Russian when you consider that Russia

lost 25 million to the Nazi invasion. At

least two other Russian films I can think

of deal with similar issues.

If the film has any "message", it would

be that "Still Waters Run Deep". Men

are not so much lacking in emotion as

they are overwhelmed by its intensity

and unable to express it.

The boy's father is such a figure. He

seems devoid of emotion, a very macho,

seemingly uncaring.

But at the end, you find out how much

he really may have cared for his sons.

And one may suspect that it might have

been his very love for them that caused

him to go away--perhaps to spare them

the danger of being involved in his

shady dealings.

The father is redeemed at the end and

questions about his love for the boys

seem answered.

The tragedy of his character is that he

was unable to communicate well with the very

people he cared most about until it was

too late.
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