The Woman With The 5 Elephants (2011)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

The 5 elephants are Dostoyevsky's great literary works, all of which have been translated by the 87-year-old Svetlana Geier, considered the world's most masterful translator of Russian literature into German. The filmmaker visits with a woman whose fascinating, dramatic life story has been colored by some of the most violent events in 20th century European history: Stalin's purges of the kulaks (responsible for her father's death) and the Nazi occupation of the Ukraine (ultimately responsible for saving her life and leading to a university education in Germany). A rigorous intellectual whom we're privileged to watch parse the language, word by word, with her colleague, she warms the screen with the depths of her dignity and humanity. Language as a civilizing force is the thread that runs through Geier's life, and it illuminates every minute of the film. --(c) Cinema Guild
Documentary , Special Interest
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Vadim Jendreyko
as Narrator

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Critic Reviews for The Woman With The 5 Elephants

All Critics (10) | Top Critics (7)

Perhaps this was just a matter of a great mind feeling as if her life spoke for itself.

Full Review… | July 22, 2011
New York Daily News
Top Critic

Quietly astonishing.

Full Review… | July 21, 2011
Top Critic

Jendreyko has clearly considered how best to translate an entire life into a movie.

Full Review… | July 20, 2011
AV Club
Top Critic

It would probably be enough just to observe Geier's daily routine; she's fascinating even when silently contemplating a page in her next project.

Full Review… | July 19, 2011
Time Out
Top Critic

Vintage newsreels and family photos add depth to this meditative film.

Full Review… | July 19, 2011
New York Post
Top Critic

Geier, who died in 2010, speaks on all subjects -- from her son's mortal injury to the nature of her various collaborations -- with the contemplative, courtly intelligence of her favorite novels.

Full Review… | July 19, 2011
Village Voice
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Woman With The 5 Elephants

An elegant and lyrical documentary about renowned translator Svetlana Geier, who has dedicated her life to translating Russian literature into German, more specifically, the works of Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Geier, who lived an extraordinary life, coming of age during WWII in the Ukraine and Germany, has both a keen mastery and unique appreciation of the beauty of language, which the film evokes with great beauty.

Matthew Lucas
Matthew Lucas

Super Reviewer

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