Siberiade (Part 1) (English Subtitled)

 (63)
8.02 h 9 min197918+
An epic chronicling 6 decades of 20th century Russia, SIBERIADE is Konchalovsky's (RUNAWAY TRAIN) passionate and ambitious examination of the Soviet spirit. When a rural village is invaded by an oil-drilling crew, a multi-generational conflict develops between ancestral reverence for the earth and government-ordained industrialization. Russian with English subtitles.
Directors
Andrei Konchalovsky
Starring
Nikita MikhalkovVladimir SamoilovVitaly Solomin
Genres
HistoricalRomanceDramaMilitary and War
Subtitles
None available
Audio languages
English
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Producers
Erik Waisberg
Studio
Kino International
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4.3 out of 5 stars

63 global ratings

  1. 64% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 17% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 10% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 3% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 6% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

Dr Jacques COULARDEAUReviewed in the United States on April 24, 2014
5.0 out of 5 stars
History is in the eyes of the beholders
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This film is probably a master piece. To summarize the history of Russia and the Soviet Union in some four odd hours is in itself a miracle. But what's more it concentrates on Siberia and it follows one little village, Elan, in this region, and in this village essentially three generations of the Ustyuzhanin family, in fact Afanasi, the grand father, then Nikolai the father and Aleksei the son, as opposed to the other family in the village, the Solomins. The first family are the poor ones, the underlings before the revolution, the others are the top family. The revolution of course transforms these relations and we follow the lives of these three men essentially in their village, when they are there since they are often rejected, or they just go away, and then they come back. Dramatically.

Afanasi is the only one who does not come back. He is always there and lives alone with his son and no wife.

Nikolai comes back as a Soviet officer, a Communist cadre and it is dramatic because he had been thrown away at the beginning of the revolution and his paramour, from the other family, had escaped from the village to find him and follow him. It will be a difficult situation since she will be burned to death by the white Cossacks during the civil war after the revolution. He comes back with his young son in the 1930s and is killed by the other paramour of his wife, the one she left behind.

Aleksei is sent to an orphanage, then on one visit to the village and his relatives a recruiting unit at the very beginning of the war against Nazi Germany accepts his enlisting, though he is slightly too young, and he will be a hero in the war, saving his captain all by himself. But in the 1960s he comes back as a master driller to drill for oil in his village because he knows there is some: he discovered it with his father when he was a kid when they marched into the marsh known as the Devil's Mane and there oil was oozing out all over the place and they managed to set it on fire, accidently. Aleksei though wants to leave after a while, with the woman he had taught how to dance when just under 18 before he enlisted, and it is when he finally can go and is going to go, alone because the woman refuses to follow him, he goes say goodbye to his drilling mates and it is then oil is struck and starts bursting out. But it gets on fire for some unimportant reason and the derrick falls and traps one man. All the others go and Nikolai manages the situation to save that man, but Nikolai is caught by the fire and dies.

But the film is a lot more important than that. It is a real film about history. You cannot force history to do something it does not want to do because you have to work with people and people do not necessarily want to change and you have to convince them. It may take three generations to move from the superstition about the Devil's Mane to the acceptance that the village is going to be completely transformed by that oil, and the most dramatic war possible in the meantime after a very dramatic and heroic revolution.

The film then shows how at the beginning of this political revolution Nikolai was naïve and thought it was easy to make people do what they did not want to do, and he is killed just because his rival in love refuses to follow him and kills him. It fails because of some private business and affair, a love story that had not gone the way one of the lovers wanted. Trite, and yet history is also the result of such capricious and unpredictable elements. It will take thirty years and one generation for what was then possible in the 1930s to become a reality in the 1960s.

And in the 1960s we are no longer speaking of that kind of romantic revolution Nikolai had in mind. Aleksei and the other oil drillers around him are confronted to the stubborn desire of the central authorities in Moscow to develop the country and to decide in Moscow what is best for everyone and the small village and the country around is going to become the largest man-made sea with the largest hydroelectric dam and factory on the Volga. It is a pure miracle that makes oil burst out of its underground lair on the very same day, killing Aleksei, as the central committee of the Communist Party or some other bureaucratic authority like this one is meeting to take a decision in favor of the dam. The events stop the dam project in its shoes and in its trail. Unluckily, and Konchalovsky knew all about it in 1979, that was the last moment when history was right against the bureaucrats. After that the USSR entered a very dark time when bureaucracy was the only possible authority and initiative from people was discouraged and even choked, and stagnation started, leading finally to regression and the fall of the USSR. We feel that end the director could not know under the open discourse about the heroism of this Aleksei.

The last but one thing about the film that has to be said is that the director chose to always look at historical events through the intimate eyes of one character or another, mainly the Ustyuzhanins. The truth is in the eyes of the beholders and not in the brains of the leaders. The death of Lenin is actually shown, but the death of Stalin is not and when the older Aleksei revisits as a dream his visit as a child of the Devil's Mane with his father, he gets inside a small hut that had been used by some hypothetical drillers. Aleksei is dreaming of course at this moment and he gets afraid and starts calling his father, as he had done when a child, and to get out of the hut he has to tear up a portrait of Stalin. This scene is of course very symbolical, especially since in the next minute he sinks in some quicksand and drowns, another symbolical act in that dream of his.

The last element I would like to emphasize is the way the director plays on the fake black and white (always in a shade that is not black, sepia or green, etc) to have archives images of some historical moments, Lenin's arrival in Petrograd, his funeral, and later on Gagarin, for example. At the same time the same fake black and white sequences are used to bring the wishes, the dreams, the recollections of the characters. The real time of each episode is in full colors. That gives a real density to the film as if we constantly had a film in the film with flashbacks and at times flash-forwards into the future (rarely) and into dreams (more often).

I must reckon it is not easy to find that film in DVD. I got the US edition in NTSC in Russian with English subtitles. But it was worth it.

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU
9 people found this helpful
manos sofoulakisReviewed in the United States on September 23, 2022
5.0 out of 5 stars
A MAGNIFICENT RUSSIAN EPIC, STILL CLASSIC! A RELIABLE TRANSACTION.
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EVERYTHING FINE! THE PRODUCT, THE TRANSACTION, THE DELIVERY!
John BlackReviewed in the United States on June 23, 2014
4.0 out of 5 stars
Set in Siberia yet covering the history of Russia from the early 1900's until well after World War II
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The drama, action and acting are good and the plot is interesting. The movie is over four hours long but with the rapid advancement of the time frame and the changing political environment this entails the movie stays interesting. The movie starts with an oil rig explosion then jumps back to the beginning of the century in Siberia. There we meet a boy called Koyla (his name is Bolshevik Nikolai Ustyuzhanin) at about the age of 10, the movie soon jumps to him in his late teens at which time he leaves Siberia. The movie picks up again many years later when he returns to Siberia with his son Alexei. From there the movie follows his son, mostly while he is in Siberia and skipping most of the long time periods when he is away. The overall history of Russia is intertwined with what is happening in Siberia. The political climate is at times shown through the use of archive news footage.

Throughout the movie there is a conflict between the Ustyuzhanin family (this being Koyla and Alexei) and the Solomin family, this conflict reflects the changing nature of Russia. As of Koyla's first return to Siberia with his son this conflict takes on the subject of developing of the natural resources in Siberia, especially oil and gas. I have no doubt that there is a great deal of symbolism here which I did not see due to my limited knowledge of Russian history and therefore the more a person knows of Russia the more they are likely to get from this movie.

As I stated earlier the action and acting are good, however there are some major continuance as well as other technical errors in the movie. The most noticeable is about twenty-five minutes into the movie at which time Koyla (about 10-years-old) is running round outside in the snow totally nude. Most of the time he is seen at a distance from head to toe from the viewpoint of a slightly older girl who told him to do it. However briefly he runs over to her and the camera angle changes to behind him and shows him from just below the knees up. During this brief shot he is wearing knee high boots but when the camera angle switches back to her point of view he is again totally nude. The other errors are not quite as noticeable.

There are a couple of other nude scenes in the movie. In one the breasts of a young woman (around 20) are seen. In the other a young woman (probably around 18 or 19) is skinning dipping and is seen fully nude from both front and rear after getting out of the water.
John DoeReviewed in the United States on May 5, 2022
4.0 out of 5 stars
Interesting movie
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Beautiful scenery
SeekingTravelerReviewed in the United States on January 6, 2016
4.0 out of 5 stars
A must-see Soviet-era film set in Siberia covering 60 years
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''Siberiade'' is a four-part made-for-television Soviet-era film from 1979. This DVD set contains two DVDs (two parts per each DVD) and runs 260 minutes. The film was directed by Andrei Mikhalkov Konchalovsky, who also wrote and directed "Uncle Vanya" and "Nest of the Gentry" (as well as the horrid "Tango and Cash," but let's forgive and forget). The famous Russian writer-director-actor Nikita Mikhalkov is Konchalovsky's younger brother.

''Siberiade'' begins in 1909 and covers approximately 60 years in the lives of two families in the tiny Siberian town of Elam: the Ustyuzhanins are poor foresters and shepherds (working folk), while the Solomins are relatively wealthy middle men. Obviously, it is not easy to cover 60 years of history in only three hours: the film starts in pre-revolutionary Siberia and briefly touches on the civil war, the 1930s, 1939-1945 war, and finally the 1960s with the industrial development in Siberia.

While this film is very good, I gave it a four-star rating (instead of five stars) because the director and editor could have done a much better job creating a coherent story. The lack of coherency may be due to the fact that this film was originally intended to be longer.

The performances are extremely good, especially the performances by Lyudmilla Gurchenko (as the older Taya Solomina) and Nikita Mikhalkov (as Alexei Ustyuzhanin). As with most Soviet films, the characters act like real, complex people most of the times, with some Moscow Circus exaggeration thrown in from time to time.

The cinematography by Levan Paatashvili is the best part of this film.

I was greatly interested in the old (real life) film footage that was used to show periods of Soviet history.
4 people found this helpful
phreejaxReviewed in the United States on January 11, 2014
5.0 out of 5 stars
One of the great triumphs of cinema
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A masterpiece in every aspect, this is an epic film that has very few equals. It is not a 'tool' of the Soviet state, as some reviewers imply - far from it, "Siberiade" is a great example of just how far Mosfilm filmmakers could go in political and social commentary without the political commissars even noticing. A case in point: Part 4, when Moscow's central planners - wholly ignorant of Siberia - decide to build a huge artificial lake for a hydroelectric project, thus burying the USSR's greatest oil and natural gas resources. The fight to stop this idiocy is the major story arc in Parts 3 & 4. It's hard to imagine this is an official Mosfilm production in 1979, but it is. In "Siberiade" you will find beauty, brutality, romance, betrayal, politics ... but most of all, bravery, and a special unsought nobility among the people of the taiga. Very, very highly recommended.
6 people found this helpful
Donald N. WeedReviewed in the United States on December 22, 2009
4.0 out of 5 stars
don nile
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I enjoyed this film, it reminded me of the American film, "HOW THE WEST WAS WON." This story was easy to follow even with subtitles. The background scenery whether it be mountains, rivers or a plain log cabin look authentic.The battle scenes were some of the best I have viewed in any movie. There was drama,romance,sex and violent. All of these scenes seem to be a natural part of life and not added to just attract a larger viewing public. The one noticeable aspect in this movie was, there were no loud background music that would distract one from enjoying the richness of this film.
6 people found this helpful
ianReviewed in the United States on May 15, 2013
5.0 out of 5 stars
Siberiade
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An intriguing film, about a stunning part of the world.
Siberia is so vast, I had trouble imagining how Konchalovsky would tackle his story, which is centred on one small area.
But wherever you lived in those vast tracts your lives would be motivated by the same needs for survival, by people with the pioneering spirit, as is expressed in the plot and characterization as the saga unfolds over 4+ hours.
My interest was caught as the film opened and I was still avidly absorbed with story, setting, characters as it ended.
A truly fascinating film which, as so many years have passed since it's production, has acquired a place in the history of the settlement of Siberia before and during the Soviet Union.
3 people found this helpful
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