The Cuckoo (film)
|Directed by||Aleksandr Rogozhkin|
|Produced by||Sergei Selianov|
|Written by||Aleksandr Rogozhkin|
|Music by||Dmitry Pavlov|
|Distributed by||STV (Russian: СТВ)|
The Cuckoo (Russian: «Кукушка», translit. Kukuška) is a 2002 Russian historical comedy drama film directed by Aleksandr Rogozhkin. It takes place during World War II from the perspective of opposing Soviet and Finnish soldiers stranded at a Sami woman's farmhouse. "Kukushka" was the nickname given by Soviet soldiers to Finnish cuckoo snipers, who ambushed their targets from a purpose-built tree-branch-nest. Thus the title refers to both Veikko (the sniper) and Anni (whose name means cuckoo in Sami, and who is a lone woman living in the forest, much like a cuckoo).
In September 1944, several days before Finland, a co-belligerent of Nazi Germany, pulls out of the Continuation War against the Soviet Union, Veikko (Ville Haapasalo), a Finnish soldier, is turned in by his Finnish and German compatriots for being a pacifist and, in their eyes, a would-be deserter. As a punishment, the young man is placed in shackles, chained to a rock outcrop in a remote Lapland forest, left with nothing but a few supplies, a Karabiner 98k rifle and ammunition - effectively made a forced Kamikaze kukushka sniper. To ensure his willingness to fight, they dress him in the uniform of the Waffen-SS, as Soviet soldiers felt little mercy towards SS men. Days pass, and after several failed attempts, Veikko succeeds in freeing himself and heads for safety, shackles still attached.
Meanwhile, Ivan (Viktor Bychkov), a captain in the Red Army accused of anti-Soviet correspondence, is arrested by the NKVD secret police. En route to his court martial, Soviet planes accidentally bomb the vehicle carrying the disgraced captain, killing the driver and Ivan's guard. Veikko, at this stage still chained to the rock, witnesses the bombing through his rifle scope.
Not far away is the farm of Anni (Anni-Kristiina Juuso), a Sami reindeer farmer whose husband was taken away together with their whole reindeer herd by Germans four years earlier, never to return. Hungry and alone, the young and resourceful widow locates the bodies of Ivan and his captors while foraging for food. As she begins to bury the dead, Anni discovers that Ivan is still alive, but seriously hurt. She carries him to her wooden hut and nurses him back to health. Meanwhile, Veikko, in search of tools to remove his shackles, stumbles upon Anni’s farm.
Comic, and sometimes tragic, misunderstandings soon arise, resulting in a passionate and very human three-way relationship. Unable to communicate with the others and unaware that the war between the USSR and Finland is over, Ivan is convinced that Veikko is a German soldier gone astray. To Ivan, the German uniform the Finnish soldier was forced to wear is further proof. Ivan even refuses to tell his name to Veikko, answering only "Poshol ty!" («Пошёл ты!» "Get lost!") — as a result, the two others think his name is "Psholty". Veikko is unaware of Ivan’s hatred and just wants to cut off his shackles, return home and put the war behind him, but opts to stay on Anni's farm to avoid falling into enemy hands. The earthly and sensuous Anni, who has not been with a man in four years, could not be more delighted with her good fortune, disregarding the language barrier between them.
For Anni, Veikko and Ivan are not enemies, but just men. An uncommon and touching bond develops, as the three unlikely souls begin a domestic routine of hunting and gathering in preparation for the long Lapp winter. The two men do what they can to contribute to Anni’s well-being. Veikko builds a sauna and Ivan picks mushrooms. Veikko, Ivan and Anni communicate only with gestures. Starved for love and physical touch, Anni seduces young, strapping Veikko, much to the chagrin of jealous middle-aged Ivan.
Not long afterwards a Soviet biplane crashes in the forest near Anni’s hut, spilling leaflets announcing an armistice between Finland and the USSR. Veikko thinks he can finally return home safely, but Ivan – who does not understand Finnish – manages to find a pistol in the wreckage and, still convinced that Veikko is an enemy, shoots him when he seemingly tries to attack Ivan, really only trying to destroy his rifle. When Ivan reads the last line of the leaflet the plane was dropping (written in Russian and instructing Soviet soldiers to allow the Finns to return home unharmed), he realizes that the war is over. Ivan is torn with remorse and, stumbling, carries Veikko back to the farm.
The nurturing Anni brings Veikko back from the brink of death through a series of ancient Sami magic rituals. With Veikko bedridden, Anni’s needs for companionship and sexual longing draw Ivan into her bed. Gradually, Ivan and Veikko, no longer separated by ethnic hate nor rivalry for the affections of Anni, become friends. As winter arrives and the two men head back to their respective homes in opposite directions, Anni is left behind with memories –and much more– of her two unlikely comrades in war and peace. In the final scene, she narrates the story to her children, whom she named after their fathers: Veikko and Psholty.
- Anni-Kristiina Juuso — Anni, Sami woman
- Ville Haapasalo — Veikko, Finnish sniper
- Viktor Bychkov — Captain Ivan Kartuzov ("Psholty")
- Director: Aleksander V. Rogozhkin
- Screenplay: Aleksander V. Rogozhkin
- Director of Photography: Andrey Zhegalov (Russian: Андрей Жегалов)
- Film Art: Vladimir I. Svetozarov (Russian: Светозаров, Владимир Иосифович)
- Composer: Dmitriy Pavlov (Russian: Павлов, Дмитрий)
- June 2002 - 24th Moscow International Film Festival - presented as a part of the competition program
- July 2002 - X Festival of the Festivals in Saint Petersburg - Grand Prize "Golden Griffin" - best film
- August 2002 - X Film Festival "Window to Europe" in Vyborg - presented as a part of the competition program
- Grand Prize - best film
- Prize for the best female actor- Anni-Kristiina Juuso
- 1 - 2nd place ( with film "The Star") in the external nomination "Vyborg's Count"
- October 2002 - International film festival "Europa Cinema" in Viareggio, Italy - presented as a part of the competition program
- Main Prize - best film
- Prize - best director
- December 2002 — 3 awards Golden Aries of the National Guild of Film Critics and Film Press:
- best film of the year
- best screenplay
- best female actor
- February 2003 - 4 awards "Golden Eagle":
- best film of the year
- best director
- best screenplay
- best male actor - Viktor Bychkov
- March 2003 - 4 awards Nika:
- best movie of the year
- best director
- best female actor
- best film artist
- 2003 - International Film Festival in Troy, Portugal
- Prize for the best film
- Prize for the best female actor
- 2003 — International Film Festival in San Francisco — Viewers' Choice Prize
- 2003 — XI Russian Film Festival in Onfler, France
- Grand Prize best film
- Best male actor - Viktor Bychkov
- Prize for the best female actor - Anni-Kristiina Juuso
June 2004 - Russian Federation National Award in the Art and Literature Area was awarded to the crew of the film; to the director and the author of the screenplay Aleksandr Rogozhkin, producer Segei Selianov, main cast Anni-Kristiina Juuso, Ville Haapasalo, Viktor Bychkov, director of photography Andrey Zhegalov, director of the film art Vladimir I. Svetozarov, composer Dmitriy Pavlov, sound engineers Anatoliy Gudkov and Sergei Sokolov.