25 June 2009 | phantlers
A Modern Classic
Sergei Dvortsevoy's technique of leaving a sometimes apparently unattended camera running is most effective in the shop scenes where the villagers enact a darkly comic ritual of banter and barter.
There is a rich vein of comedy and tragedy running through the film that is characteristically Russian. Even the lingering shots of the goats munching are charged with a sense of absurd philosophy. They set the scene for the pace of life in the village and the importance of the bread, it's all they have to do, just like the goats, eat and pass the time of day with one another, just as the goats do when one unexpectedly rears up to greet another through an open window.
The piece is punctuated with moments like that and it is a moving portrait of a dying way of life in a stunningly beautiful but decrepit setting.