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Silent Souls [DVD]
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When Miron s beloved wife Tanya passes away, he asks his best friend Aist to help him say goodbye to her according to the rituals of the Merya culture, an ancient Finno-Ugric tribe from Lake Nero, a picturesque region in West-Central Russia. Although the Merya people blended with the Russians in the 17th century, their myths and traditions live on in the modern life of their descendants. The two men set out on a road trip thousands of miles across the boundless landscape. With them are two small birds in a cage. Along the way, as is the custom of Merya people, Miron shares intimate memories of his conjugal life. But as they reach the banks of the sacred lake where they will forever part with the body, he realises he wasn t the only one in love with Tanya...
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Baloney. The film makers must be laughing themselves sick. Just listen to the words of the alleged poetry and songs of this semi-extinct culture; or think about the scene where they buy 120 axe handles, 100 shovel handles, etc., to build a funeral pyre; count the amount of vodka consumed in getting the pyre to burn; at least notice that the novel upon which the film claims to be based doesn't exist, though (according to the final words of the film) it was posthumously typed on the shiny scales of the fish of the Volga - on the typewriter once sacrificed to the great river by the poet-father.
It's not only the protagonists who have had their eyes metaphorically pecked out by allegorical songbirds. Put your tongue firmly in your cheek and watch it again. It's a superb piece of cod ethnology, beautifully pitched to entice sophisticated viewers into acclaiming a spoof as a masterpiece - which, in its own terms, it is! A hoot.
This is not a film to watch with your daughter... the washing of her body in Vodka was not an easy scene to sit through together....
The photography and the pace are brilliant; opening us up to new cultural traditions of how to deal with grief and mourning... the cover of the DVD says much after you have watched the film.
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