Poem of the Sea (Yuliya Solntseva / Soviet Union, 1958):
(Poema o More; Poem of an Inland Sea)

"Disrupted harmony" is the theme in suspension, the introductory views from the Dnieper barge (ruddy-tinted à la Ray's Wind Across the Everglades) are reprised at the close alongside the proudly roaring dam. Youth and maturity, nature and technology, realism and fantasy mysteriously braided: Returning home, the writer (Mikhail Romanov) contemplates a dozing maiden aboard the ship, then a flicker of a dream (three or four seconds of the young couple magically aloft) dissolves to the jet carrying the aged general (Boris Livanov). (His ruminations on immortality are echoed later by Leonid Tarabarinov's callow, anguishedly womanizing engineer.) Trucks and excavators are prevalent in the village marked for submersion, the avuncular local chairman (Boris Andreyev) conducts the relocation with more than a tinge of pantheistic melancholy: "Mind the main thing, comrades... the sea." Dovzhenko by proxy, a journal of renderings galvanized by Yuliya Solntseva's own striking eye, an act of resurrection and transformation. John Ford is a great influence (John Qualen facing down the bulldozer in The Grapes of Wrath is unmistakably indicated), yet the timbre of these serene-volatile visions is purely Ukrainian—a mother's song suddenly fills a pale field with memories of tanks and explosions, a vengeful father wields a mighty whip that ruptures the screen itself, a swirling soupçon of animation evokes the Tsarist past through children's eyes. "Be careful, for the land will avenge betrayal." Solntseva presents the next panel in Chronicle of Flaming Years, though not before Kazan's Wild River has its say. With Zinaida Kirienko, Georgi Kovrov, and Ivan Kozlovsky.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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