This parable of the last days of civilisation as we know it takes place mostly underground, as the survivors of what seems to have been an accidental missile exchange wait for each other to die. The letters of the title are interior monologues by an elderly scientist (Bikov), addressed to the son he knows must have perished amid the briefly glimpsed devastation on the surface. What is most remarkable to find in a Soviet film, apart from the resolutely unpartisan pessimism, is a clear religious thread. The band of silent children who represent the hope of the future are initially in the care of a priest, before the dying scientist takes upon himself their salvation. Old hands will detect shades of Tarkovsky in this; in fact, Lopushansky was assistant on Stalker. —Time Out
Andrey Tarkovsky’s disciple, consistently realizing his master’s spiritual and aesthetic principles in his own creations, Konstantin Lopushansky is one of the few Russian film directors whose works can be referred to the notion of “author’s cinematography”. He challenges most complicated artistic tasks in his films, each of them being the evidence of painstaking intellectual work and deep personal emotional experience.
Konstatnin Sergeyevich Lopushansky was born on June 12, 1947 in the city of Dnepropetrovsk. In 1970 he graduated from Kazan conservatoire as a violinist, and in 1973 he completed a postgraduate course in Leningrad conservatoire with a Ph.D. thesis in art criticism. Then Konstantin Lopushansky taught at the Kazan and Leningrad conservatories for several years, before taking the Higher Courses for Scriptwriters and Film Directors. Upon graduating the courses in 1979 he assisted Andrey Tarkovsky in directing the legendary film Stalker. Since 1980 Lopushansky has worked… read more
"Military reference books are now priceless on the black market, because of thick hard covers and natural paper pages. They produce a good heat output in autonomous heating systems. Now we have a different scheme for grading literature."
A stunning, nightmarish and deeply humanistic piece of work, the fact that they manage to create such a vivid, scary and palpable post-apocalyptic vision of the world almost 30 years ago puts current cinema to shame.