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Harvest Time

4.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Winner of a Golden Plaque award at the Chicago International Film Festival "for its complex and poetic evocation of an ambiguous period in Soviet history," Marina Razbezhkina's debut film Harvest Time is a beautiful portrait of a woman living in a small Russian village after World War II. Working at a collective farm as a tractor operator, Antonina suddenly finds herself having to support her young son and husband - after the latter returns from the warfront without his legs. In honor of Antonina's hard work, the State rewards her with the prestigious Red Flag, also naming her the best tractor operator in the region. As the first woman to ever receive such title, Antonina becomes the source of great pride for her family and community. But when a mouse infestation threatens to destroy the valued Flag, the prestigious prize turns into a liability. Antonina becomes intensely invested in keeping it safe and at her home. More than a story of survival against ethics, or individuality against collectivity, Harvest Time is a piercing meditation on family unity. Set in the 1950s U.S.S.R., a period marked by rapid Soviet development and harsh poverty for its habitants, Razbezhkina's film dares to combine humor and sensitive character development with a legitimate sense of nostalgia for a difficult and fascinating period in the Soviet past.

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Product Details

  • Actors: Lyudmila Motornaya, Vyacheslav Batrakov, Dmitri Yakovlev, Dmitri Yermakov, Sergei Starostin
  • Directors: Marina Razbezhkina
  • Writers: Marina Razbezhkina
  • Producers: Natalia Zheltukhina, Tatyana Kanaeva
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: Russian (Unknown)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Unrated
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Kino Lorber films
  • DVD Release Date: February 6, 2007
  • Run Time: 67 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000K7VHQO
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #175,264 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Harvest Time" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Brendan M. Howard on January 16, 2007
Format: DVD
Harvest Time takes pains to show the beauty of its southern Russian plains. Figuratively speaking, bugs dance, the sun sings, and rain plays music for the farmers and their families. But the natural beauty is subverted by the barely comical, mostly tragic tale of a hard-working woman who loses her sanity and family to the Russian flag.

This particular Russian flag--not with the hammer and sickle, but a Revolution-era one with the proud faces of Lenin, etc.--is given into the safekeeping of Antonina as a reward for her being the best combine operator in the village. Before then, she is purposefully devoted to her family. She has a World War II-wounded legless husband who loves her and their two boys with intense humor and hope, even if he can't really help her with the chores or work.

But her world changes when she returns to a home with a beautiful flag and nowhere safe to put it. She more and more devotes her days and nights to hiding the flag from mice, failing, and repairing their nibbled holes, making it imperceptibly smaller and smaller. Eventually, her obsession with operating the combine quickly and efficiently overtakes her love of family. She must stay No. 1 so no one ever notices the flag's shrinking size. The family suffers, the village is largely oblivious, and the state's officers don't care. They just come, year after year, on the day to award the best combine operator with possession of an inspirational flag. It is a flag that weighs its winner with a responsibility that cannot be met.

The film's tenor is typical visually focused foreign film: not much dialogue, beautiful scenes, occasional traumas and joys. It tells a story of a woman destroyed by her country, but not in the typical way.
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Comment 15 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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First of all, it is rather flawed technically. Excluding the voice-overs that represent character's thoughts, or after-the fact narratives, a fair amount of the dialog is dubbed and either does not synch well, or is acoustically off. Secondly, it's depiction of the horrible emptiness, drudgery, drabness, and stark meaninglessness of the lives depicted in this early 1950s Soviet country setting could cause some viewers to become very depressed. But it is this powerful- albeit potentially depressing- depiction that can serve to remind us that a life that is rich, fulfilling, fun, and highly enjoyable is often very rare, and should be consciously cherished- because much of human history has been, and will continue to be, in many countries and many societies, extremely difficult. It is this powerful aspect that makes this film a must-see. As a side note: I bought his DVD to help me maintain my facility in the Russian language. Since the dialog is rather sparse, it is not really adequate for that purpose.
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The previous reviewer (Ignoramus, by his own term) did not notice the most important fact: she had to preserve the flag, because if she would not, she could be punished by the government [the laborcapms were full with people who knocked over the Stalin's bust by accident, or did something like collecting a few grains of wheat from the field]. Remember, she tried to be the operator # 1 because she wanted to get a piece of material for a dress. What an irony that what she was dreaming about was given to MEN in 2nd & 3rd places when giving the awards].
If it would be discovered that she let the banner be eaten up by mice, she could be called a criminal. In 1950s people were still arrested even for that. That fear is sensed even by the 5-year old boy who understood that the whole life of the family is ruined by that fear or by expectation of something bad to happen (which did).
Also, the most tragic part of the film is its ending. Whoever lived in 1950s is dead (including the narrator). Nobody is left to tell the story, which means that the entire story is told by the DEAD man (killed by the "fiendly fire" in Afganistan), for nobody remembers these people on the pictures [in new apartment in new times]). The conclusion is: the previous generations are gone, & nobody is there to continue with life. The only object that is left is a piece of flag {that becomes a fashion statement for a young girl living in 1990s). It is really a tragic film, "the rest is silence".
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So tired of watching movies without thinking about the reality of post WW2. We pay too much attention to actors rather than to characters. I like movies that make me not just feel, but also think. This is one such film.
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