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29 Ratings

The Enchanted Desna

Zacharovannaya desna

Directed by Yuliya Solntseva
Soviet Union, 1964


Describes a Ukrainian village in the early 1900s as an extended parenthetical flashback between vistas of the modern dam that replaces it.

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The Enchanted Desna Directed by Yuliya Solntseva
Summer may be drawing to a close, but the Museum of the Moving Image is throwing one last hurrah with a screening of Yuliya Solntseva’s Ukrainian Trilogy the final weekend of August. If you can only make it to Astoria for one of these rarely shown treasures, ensure that it is The Enchanted Desna , a kaleidoscopic fairy tale complete with blazing colors, talking horses, biblical floods, and fields of impossibly yellow sunflowers — among other fantasies.
August 26, 2017
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It portrays a village childhood through the memories of a soldier on the front. (There’s an autobiographical kick here: Dovzhenko was one of the Soviet directors who’d seen the most combat, during both the Russian Civil War and World War II.) As such, it’s a work of stark contrasts — the fiery hellscape of battle set against the supernaturally redemptive power of nature.
August 22, 2017
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[Young Alexander’s] paean to the joy of the sound of scythes being hammered launches a brilliant scene of farmers rhythmically massed in synchronized threshing. Solntseva pairs Alexander’s idyllic memories with pictorial rhapsody, filling the screen with a molten crimson sunrise, wavering light on a river’s surface which looks like animated Abstract Expressionism, mist drifting dreamily along the riverbanks, smoke billowing, and clouds swarming amid the twilit sky.
August 11, 2017
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