Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

21 July 2014

The Dawns Here Are Quiet

I am staying on the campus of Sweet Briar College for the next week or so, and I am in staying in the house of a guy who studies Russian literature and culture – at least it would appear so from the large number of books on Kazakhstan and Russia that are in the house.

There is also a large collection of DVDs here, a decidedly odd collection, in fact – two seasons of Dark Angel, Lucky Number Slevin, The Lives of Others, Donnie Darko, 28 Days Later, and Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events – it is very strange. But there are a lot of great Russian films on DVD here too. He has Mongol and Prisoner of the Mountains, and an unopened copy of Dersu Uzala and one of Mikhail Kalatozov's Letter Never Sent, and a whole bunch of others, some of which I can't identify because I read Cyrillic poorly.

But, I found a copy of The Dawns Here are Quiet and I watched it last night. It's not available via Netflix, so I was really excited to find this 3-hour film here, and wonder of wonders, it's great.

The Dawns starts off as a comedy, a silly little film about women soldiers moving into a small provincial district of the Soviet Union (near Finland, I gathered) in World War II. Also, I had seen the beginning of this film – something like the first 10 minutes – and I was really confused when I started it. Not sure where or when I saw these first 10 minutes, but I'm sure I had. In any case, the movie moves from being a comedy into being a poignant standoff films of soldiers in the middle of the forest fighting Nazis. Great stuff, and quite suspenseful. I pretty much loved it.

This film isn't on DVD, so I can't actually recommend it to anyone, but I wanted to jot down some thoughts on it. I watched a couple of old Soviet films last year at Dartmouth, and hopefully I'll be able to raid their film library a bit more this coming year.