Red Snowball Tree (Kalina krasnaya)

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This film was the winner of the All-Union Film Festival prize, and was extremely popular in the Soviet Union. This was the last film made by writer/director/actor Vasili Shukshin, who was a leading exponent of the Russian traditionalist cultural movement which idealized the simplicity of rural, village life. It is based on his novel of the same name. Shukshin died in 1974, the year the film was released. While Kalina Krasnaya clearly favors the simple life, it does not embellish or overly glorify this theme, unlike official party films in praise of workers; this may partly account for its popularity. Duty, guilt, delayed redemption and retribution are the themes of this movie, which has resonances with Dostoevsky's works. Yegor Prokudin (Vasili Shukshin) is an orphan who grew up in a criminal gang. While he was free, he did not lose his innocent, joyful heart, but many years in prison have taken away his joy in living. The film opens on the occasion of his release from prison. Soon, he discovers love with a village peasant girl, Lyuba (Lidia Fedoseeva-Shukshina), who restores his will to live and fills him with an enthusiasm for rural life. Their idyll is short-lived, as his former associates will not leave him alone. ~ Clarke Fountain, Rovi


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