Annotated by:
Belling, Catherine
  • Date of entry: Dec-31-1899
  • Last revised: Feb-11-2002

Summary

A young man (Alexander Anaishnov) has come to take care of his mother (Gudrin Geyer) who lives alone in rural Russia. She is dying. He watches her sleep, takes her for a walk (or rather carries her), reads to her, gives her medicine, and, when she falls asleep, goes for a walk alone. He breaks down and weeps, then returns to his mother, who may still be sleeping or may now be dead.

Commentary

This beautifully observed film shows us a young man caring for his dying mother. The green countryside, thunderstorm threatening, through which he carries her forms a powerful counterpoint to the darkness and simplicity, but evident warmth, of her cottage. We almost envy the mother, cared for and loved, whereas the son's loneliness as he watches over and grieves for her, the roles of mother and child reversed, is heartbreaking.

The film seems to take place in close to real time. For instance, when he watches her sleep, we watch, too, silently, for as long as it takes. When he carries her outside for a walk, we follow what seems to be the entire progress. As a result, the film is slow and will certainly try the patience of some, but it also captures something important about caring for the dying: the slow passing of time when death has become inevitable but will not be hurried along. As we watch the young man watching his mother, we feel with him that every minute is at the same time both precious and excrutiating.

Miscellaneous

In Russian, with English subtitles.

Primary Source

Winstar and Fox Lorber Films