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East-West

Regis Wargnier

Est-ouest

Regis Wargnier (Une Femme Francaise, Indochine) has made another romantic period drama with East-West, which is also a moving tribute to the victims of a tragic Stalinist episode. In 1946, Stalin launches a vast propaganda campaign aimed at Russian emigrants living in the West, offering them an amnesty, a Soviet passport and a chance to participate in the post-war reconstruction of the U.S.S.R. Alexei Golovine (Oleg Menchikov), a talented young doctor living in France, decides to return to his mother country together with his French wife Marie (Sandrine Bonnaire) and their young son. Their idealism is shattered on arrival in Odessa, where many of their fellow travellers are immediately executed or sent to work camps. Alexei and his family survive, but Marie is determined to escape to freedom. Opportunity comes her way when she meets Gabrielle Develay (Catherine Deneuve), a famous French actress on tour in the Soviet Union. Wargnier’s superbly mounted epic is unsparing in its depiction of the brutality of Stalinist repression, but it’s not really a political film. What interests Wargnier is ‘the incredible human capacity for survival, adaptation and resistance.’

France/Russia/ Spain, 1999.
French and Russian dialogue;
English subtitles.
Colour.
Dolby digital stereo.
120 min.

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