There is a mysterious place in the midst of the Ukrainian steppes, the Zvenyhora, or the Ringing Mountain. According to folk legends it harbors invaluable treasures of the Scythians. The entire chain of historic events that left their trace on the face of Ukraine – the Varangians, the nomad invaders, the struggle against the Polish gentry, the Haidamaka uprising, the First World War and the Bolshevik Revolution – are connected by one image of a Ukrainian old man, ageless, ingenuous, enterprising, cunning and indestructible – Dovzhenko’s personification of Ukrainian identity itself. The old man’s entire life is devoted to hunting for the illusive hidden treasures, which, as the film unfolds increasingly appear as a metaphor of Ukraine’s national sole and its – yet unlocked - spiritual potential. In the process, the old man is torn between his grandson Pavlo, epitome of the Ukrainian nationalist cause, and Tymishko, forward-looking, proletariat-oriented Bolshevik. The old man, instigated by Pavlo attempts to derail the Bolshevik train of progress. He is captured by Tymish’s comrades-in-arms, forgiven and taken on board the train speeding away towards the bright new day.
CAST & CREW
Maik Yohanson, Yurko Tiutiunnyk
Director of Photography
Mykola Nademsky, Semen Svashenko, Maria Parshina, Les Podorozhny, Polina Sklyar-Otava, Georgy Astafyev
Born to a peasant family that descended from Cossacks, Aleksandr Dovzhenko experienced a harsh childhood beset by poverty and strife. He was a director and writer, known for Arsenal (1929), Earth (1930) and Zvenigora (1928). Dovzhenko had long been under observation for supposed nationalist sympathies towards Ukraine. Later films like Shchors and Michurin often suffered as a result of compromises forced on the director by the state bureaucrats. During the Second World War, Dovzhenko directed documentaries and newsreels, developing personal projects such as Poem of the Sea. The latter film and other projects were completed after his death by his wife Julia Solntseva. His most significant work in this otherwise unfulfilling period was his post as a teacher at the VGIK, the state sponsored film school at Moscow. His students included film-makers like Larissa Shepitko, and most notably Sergei Parajanov.
Love's Berrie (1926), Vasya the Reformer (1926), The Diplomatic Pouch (1927), Zvenigora (1927), Arsenal (1928), Earth (1930), Ivan (1932), Aerograd (1935), Bukovyna: a Ukrainian Land (1939), Shchors (1939), Liberation (1940), Battle for Soviet Ukraine (1943), Soviet Earth (1945), Victory in the Ukraine and the Expulsion of the Germans from the Boundaries of the Ukrainian Soviet Earth (1945), Michurin (1948), Farewell, America (1949), Poem of the Sea (1959).