Destinations Magazine

The Dawns Here Are Quiet

By Pabster @pabloacalvino
The dawns here are quietKindle

azorizdestikhie1I’m a devotee of Russian cinema because it almost never disappoints me, and takes in fact a pre-eminent place in my all-times favourites. Títles such as Siberiad, Solaris, Uncle Vania, Dersu Uzala o Moscow does not believe in tears, among others, are among the first in my top list. But today a new film has come to, by its own right, oust many of the others a step down. I’m talking aboute The dawns here are quiet (A zori zdes tikhie).

And by ‘new’ I don’t mean it’s a release -actually, it’s a 1972 production- but that I’ve just watched it for the first time and I hadn’t heard of it before. Unfortunately, in this ‘hermetic markets economy’ our planet is divided in (European, USAmerican, Chinese, Russian…) not even Culture – or maybe least of all Culture! – is granted free movement, and Sovietic cinema very rarely reaches our Western screens; so that only thanks to some acquaintances I have in the former Eastern Block I get to know, every now and then, of these cinematographic gems.

Under the careful and sensitive direction of Stanislav Rostotski, The dawns here are quiet is set in Karelia (North-West of Russia, near Finland) in 1941 during WWII. In a beautiful and quiet wilderness far from the front-line there is an anti-aircraft artillery point, where corporal Vaskov is stationed with a group of women soldiers. When German paratroopers are spotted, he takes five of the women to stop them. But A zori zdes tikhie is not just another war movie, perhaps not a war movie at all. There is of course, like almost any Soviet productions at the time, a strong patriotic message, but, when have they not been patriotic? Their love for ‘mother Russia’ is a recurrent topic present in almost all their literature and cinema. Perhaps no other nation in history have loved their mother country in the special, heartfelt way Russians do… or at least did. But, beyond the patriotism, this film is a touching and poetic history that shows – and makes us feel so – how the unshakable bonds of love, friendsihp and duty may lead to sacrifice.

This, Rostotski tells us very unpretentiously, without the unplausible exploits and coincidences Hollywood cinema has accustomed us to; without ado, solemn sentences or heroic gestures, but with a nuanced plot humbly simple and through flesh and bone characters who love, fight and die as in real war. Besides, the actors’ interpretations are so realistic it almost hurts; photography is stunning despite the black & white, and to top it all, the soundtrack is heartrendingly beautiful and moving.

Though I consider myself a very critical movie buff, I can’t find any flaw in this one, any objection worth mentioning; and I can say without exaggeration that The dawns here are quiet is an unforgettable film; a film that speaks and gets straight to our heart.

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