Russian DVD cover
|Directed by||Andrei Konchalovsky|
|Produced by||Erik Waisberg|
|Written by||Andrei Konchalovsky
|Music by||Eduard Artemyev|
|Edited by||Valentina Kulagina|
|Running time||275 min. (4-part)|
|Language||Russian / German|
Siberiade (Russian: Сибириада, translit. Sibiriada) is a 1979 epic Soviet film in four parts, spanning much of the 20th century. The leading roles were played by the celebrated Soviet actors Nikita Mikhalkov and Lyudmila Gurchenko. The director was Andrei Konchalovsky, working for the Mosfilm studio.
In its theme, the movie combines narrative elements from different traditions. So the first part of the movie tells of wondrous archetypical elements within the Russian culture, as connected to the pre-electrified epoch that is being narrated. Similarly, elements of the heroic epic are included within the part narrating the protagonist's involvement in World War II.
Throughout the film, the differences in epoch displayed and, accordingly, stylistics and themes used are very well consistent with each other, thus writing a continuous history of Siberia in the 20th century, transcending the seeming ruptures yielded by the national- and global-scale socio-political and socio-economic discourses. Likewise, it can be watched and regarded as an early reflection on processes of globalisation, a topic seemingly counter-intuitive, when it comes to Russia.
The small village of Yelan has lain hidden in the Siberian backwoods since time immemorial, Siberiade revolves around two families, the Solomins and the Ustyuzhanins, who live in Yelan and have been feuding for as long as anyone can remember. The Solomins were relatively wealthy and the Ustyuzhanins poor.
The film begins in 1904. Afanasy "Afonya" Ustyuzhanin is an aging man who spends all of his waking hours chopping a corduroy road "anywhere away from Yelan". His young child Nikolai "Kolya" Ustyuzhanin (b. 1897) must fend for himself by stealing from the Solomins. He meets Rodion Klimentov, a revolutionary fugitive who inspires him, who is soon found by the police and taken away.
In 1917 Kolya continues to help his father build the road, which has become an epic project stretching many miles. He is in a romantic relationship with hoyden Anastasia "Nastya" Solomin, but a quarrel about the revolution infuriates Nastya, who immediately seeks out Phil Solomin, kisses him, and demands marriage. As the wedding preparations begin, Kolya begs for forgiveness, but Nastya savors the revenge. Kolya fights with the Solomins and is beaten and cast adrift down the river. Later that day Phil seeks out Nastya in a barn and sexually assaults her, but she escapes and joins an unconscious Kolya. Meanwhile Afonya, still chopping, falls asleep, drunk, on an ant nest, and dies alone.
In 1932, Kolya returns to Yelan as a charismatic party official with his loyal, revolutionary-minded son Alexei (who was born in 1923). He informs the Solomins that Nastya, who had left with him, died heroically. In a town hall meeting he gets the village to agree on a plan for tapping the area's natural resources. A dispute leads to Kolya arresting Spiridon Solomin, who soon escapes and kills Kolya. Alexei flees.
In June 1941 Alexei, a teenager, returns to Yelan and meets Taya, a free-spirited Solomin girl who becomes infatuated with him. A recruiting barge visits the town, announcing the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, and Alexei enlists. The boat pulls away and Taya yells to Alexei that she will wait for him all her life. In the war, Alexei saves an injured officer (Phil Solomin, whom he does not recognize) and becomes a decorated war hero. The war ends, and Taya continues to wait for Alexei's return day after day, which never occurs.
Around 1964 Alexei returns to Yelan with an oil drilling crew. His enemy, Spiridon, has returned from prison a bitter and frail man, and Alexei feels only pity. He meets Taya and has a casual affair, but she is also courted by Alexei's boss Tofik, causing a rift. Meanwhile, Phil Solomin in Moscow has risen high into the ranks of Soviet leadership, but wrestles with his conscience over the plan for a massive hydroelectric dam project that would flood Yelan. Alexei resigns from the oil drilling operation to leave town, stopping at Taya's house to take her with him to the resort city of Sochi, but it becomes clear that they have grown apart. Alexei storms off, and the oil well blows out as he leaves town. The blowout turns into an inferno and Alexei rushes in to save a former coworker, and dies in the process. As Spiridon gloats over the demise of the last Ustyuzhanin, Taya reveals to him that she bears Alexey's child.
At a party conference in Moscow, a telegram arrives with the news of the oil strike, which vindicates Siberia as a mining center. The officials react with pleasure but give a moment of silence for the passing of Alexei. Phil flies to Yelan to supervise the containment operation, but it becomes clear that the graveyard must be razed to save the town. As the film closes, the ghosts of the Solomins and Ustyuzhanins seemingly appear in the graveyard expressing gratitude and unity.
- Vitaly Solomin as Nikolai Ustyuzhanin
- Nikita Mikhalkov as Aleksey Ustyuzhanin
- Natalya Andrejchenko as Anastasya Solomina
- Pavel Kadochnikov as Eternal Grandfather
- Sergei Shakurov as Spiridon Solomin
- Lyudmila Gurchenko as Taya Solomina
- Igor Okhlupin as Philip Solomin
- Yevgeni Perov as Yerotei Solomin
- Vladimir Samojlov as Afanasy Ustyuzhanin
- Ivan Dmitriyev as Blinov
- Mikhail Kononov as Rodion Klimentov
- Ruslan Miqaberidze as Tofik Rustamov
- Maksim Munzuk as Fedyka
- Nikolai Skorobogatov as Yermolai
- Konstantin Grigoryev
- Yelena Koreneva as teenage Taya Solomina
- Yevgeni Leonov-Gladyshev as teenage Aleksey Ustyuzhanin
- Vladimir Levitan
- Leonid Pleshakov
- Vadim Vilsky
In popular culture
- "Festival de Cannes: Siberiade". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-05-24.