DVD Dolgaya schastlivaya zhizn

DVD Dolgaya schastlivaya zhizn
Run time: 77 min
Rating: 6.0
Genres: Drama
Director: Boris Khlebnikov
Writers: Aleksandr Rodionov, Boris Khlebnikov
Stars: Aleksandr Yatsenko, Anna Kotova, Vladimir Korobeynikov
Country: Russia
Release Date: 11 April 2013 (Russia)


  1. I saw this film at the Berlinale 2013 film festival, as part of the official Competition section. It is about Sascha who "owns" a former collective farm (alas, his ownership is not formally registered). He is about to be eased out of his land and offered a compensation to let him resume business elsewhere. Initially he is willing to cooperate, but that changes when his workers take a stand to not being removed from the land they worked on for so many years, and are prepared to defend it even with force if necessary.

    We witness several scenes in the local government office, where administrators seem very eager to finalize the eviction. I'm sure that several underlying hints about self-serving public servants (and hence corruption) went past us, unknowingly how such things are normally arranged in that area. Yet, it got stuck in our memory as an important theme, especially when halfway the story we meet the buyer of Sascha's land, who turned out to be the same person we saw in the government office on the other side of the counter.

    Sascha's workers at first agree on defending the land they all work on, against the immanent dispossession. In spite of his initial inclination to sign the necessary papers, to accept the compensation he is promised, and to start a new life elsewhere with his girl friend, Sascha then changes course and decides to defy what the administration has prepared for him. Of course, he is told in so many words that he fights a battle he can only loose, and that the decisions are already taken on the highest levels, but he persists against all "wise" advice.

    Towards his overly loyal workers, Sascha shows himself thankful. He even offers them help where he can when they need any. Along that line he lends one of them a considerable amount (he has to borrow it himself) to deal with a car accident. Later on, that same worker leaves anyway, pressured by his wife who sees no future in the planned resistance. And another worker leaves, taking with him a tractor as compensation for not being paid. This is a definite setback, since the tractor can hardly be missed for working on the land.

    We observe an eroding process, more or less like the proverbial rats leaving a sinking ship. In an attempt to rescue the situation, Sascha approaches the prospective buyer of his land and proposes to pay rent and thus extend his presence through at least the potato harvest . At that moment he discovers the buyer is one of those working in the administration office. This at least shows us a negative side of the local bureaucracy, most probably demonstrating corruption as a standard operation procedure in those areas.

    Later on, a group of remaining workers admit they were morons to resist the government, thereby defeating their former common stance to defend the land even by force. Eventually we see Sascha alone left behind, still stubbornly refusing to leave the premises. When the new land owner arrives, accompanied by a police officer, carrying some papers to sign, the story takes a dramatic turn and leaves only losers in the end.

    All in all, this film clearly makes his point about how a vast country as Russia is (mis)governed, where local administrators don't act like public "servants" (mind the quotes), and many other things along this line about Russia we read in our Western newspapers. Of course, it still is a large country, and it cannot be avoided that the left hand not always knows what the right hand does. Whether all this is incidental or structural, we cannot verify from a large distance, yet it seems a common theme in many contemporary movies about this country.

    As far as casting and acting is concerned, I find Sascha the most remarkable performer. In no way he looks like the "boss" he actually is, as he simply lacks the build for it. But he is addressed as such by his workers who apparently respect him, though he does not speak and move as someone in charge. Anyway, you won't get an inside view in the minds of these people, neither Sascha nor his girl friend nor his workers. Why they do what they do, will remain a secret for us, and some extra hints for our understanding of their inner motives would improve this film a lot.

    Last but not least, the harsh landscape where this drama is located, is an important aspect of this movie. It emphasizes in pictures (better than a thousand words) under which conditions these people work and live, and still are happy with their life as it is and stick to it as long as possible. In other words, it is indeed a world very different from ours. All the above gives you many reasons to go and see this movie.

  2. Sasha has left the city and moved to a rural village where he has bought up a farm…it isn't productive and the state decides it wants to buy up the land and they have offered Sasha a substantial compensation package if he signs over the farm…

    What ensues is fascinating…his workers refuse to give up the land without a fight and touched by their strength Sasha decides to stand alongside them and fight and give up his compensation and risk losing his beautiful girlfriend…

    We see this revolution fall apart as tough talk doesn't turn into tough action…some may support an idea but have no desire to sacrifice for it…and those who have sacrificed the most need to see something through so that their efforts haven't been in vain…the theme of betrayal and sacrifice reign large in this movie…

    Another outstanding Russian flick that makes one think…especially considering some of the conflicts we have seen lately…

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