Scarecrow (1984 film)

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Scarecrow
Scarecrow (1984 film).jpg
Directed byRolan Bykov
Produced bySergei Woolman
StarringKristina Orbakaite
Yuri Nikulin
Elena Sanayeva
Rolan Bykov
Svetlana Kryuchkova
Music bySofia Gubaidulina
CinematographyAnatoly Mukasei
Release date
  • September 14, 1984 (1984-09-14)
Running time
127 minutes
CountryUSSR
LanguageRussian

Scarecrow (Russian: Чучело or Chuchelo) is a 1984 Soviet drama film dealing with bullying directed by Rolan Bykov, loosely based on the novel by Vladimir Zheleznikov.

Plot[edit]

The film opens with two colliding scenes in a rural Russian village. In one scene, school children are ruthlessly bullying and harassing a young girl, who begins running away from them as they increase the level of taunting and pressure. At the river's edge in the village, a ferryboat with tourists is pulling up to the dock while a tour guide extols the historic and architectural beauty of the village they are about to visit. As the passengers are getting off the boat, the mob chasing the young girl comes into view. The children push her down, then kick and beat her while the horrified tourists look on and express their shock. An old man runs up and yells "How shameful!" and the bullies scatter. The old man picks up the girl and takes her away.

In the next scene, the young girl is in a house with the old man. She is Lena Bessoltseva, living with her grandfather, a military veteran and art collector. He dresses her wounds and asks her what the attack was all about. She equivocates, but then slowly reveals the reason for the bullying over the course of the film, which is told in a series of flashbacks. When she arrived at the school, she acquired the nickname "scarecrow" due to a clumsy fall in class. She then develops a liking for the most popular boy in class, threatening the established social order. The young girl Shmakova, once the favorite of the class hero Somov, now has to move to another desk. This tension leads to much of the drama later in the movie.

The students are excited about an upcoming spring break trip to Moscow, but are told by the teacher to get the money for the trip from their parents. Lena comes up with the idea of raising the money by working at a nearby farm. The teacher is supportive and the project gets under way, with Lena and Somov getting closer as friends. But when the group returns from work to the classroom and see the note from the teacher about a literature lesson, they instead come up with the idea of running off to the theater to watch a movie. Somov insists that they must follow the teacher's directives, but other students berate him for thinking he's in charge. To save face, he agrees with the plan to go to the movies. They rush out, but Somov forgets the money, and Lena falls and gashes her knee when running back to get it. Somov returns for the money, and Lena returns for a bandage, where she overhears a heated exchange between the teacher and Somov, who admits that the class ran off to the movies.

On the first day of spring break, the children are being lectured by the teacher regarding their bad behavior. The bell for the buses rings, and all rush to depart, but the teacher stops them, saying that part of their punishment is that they will not get to go on the spring break class trip to Moscow. Crushed, they watch the buses leave without them. One of the tougher girls who goes by the nickname "Iron Tack" figures that someone betrayed them about the movie. She decides to find out who the traitor is. Somov is sweating and scared, and when his pulse is checked by the girls, it's found to be above normal. To save him, Lena says that it was she who told the teacher. This begins a series of terrifying chase scenes through the village as the schoolkids turn up the pressure on Lena, while Somov keeps insisting to Lena that he will come clean and tell them the truth.

In the end, he is unable to, and after the final instance of bullying, Lena and her grandfather sit in the house after Lena's long story of how she took on the guilt of her beloved, only to find that he truly was a coward. Lena goes to the village beauty shop, where she cuts her hair off, and then shows up at Somov's birthday party, where all her classmates are carrying on. She delivers a pointed diatribe about many of her classmates, and then dramatically whips off her shawl, revealing her bald head. She also announces that she's leaving the village.

Back at school, Lena comes in to find that Somov has finally confessed to the rest of the class that he was the one who told the teacher. The students are taunting him and he stands at the edge of the window, threatening to jump as Lena walks in. Lena talks him into getting down from the window, and many of the students congratulate Lena on being tough and not leaving. The teacher greets her class and announces some very important news. A local art collector has donated his home and a priceless collection of paintings by a famous artist who once lived in the village. The collection has been appraised as extremely valuable, and the home will become a museum for the collection. At that point, the grandfather comes in to collect his granddaughter Lena. He leaves a special painting, wrapped in a cloth, with the class. When the teacher unwraps the painting, it is revealed to be a young woman who appears just like Lena did with her short hair. The children are stricken with shame over what they did to her, and one student writes on the chalkboard above the painting "Scarecrow, forgive us".

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