Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|The Captivating Star of Happiness|
Actor: Vladimir Motyl
Genres: Indie & Art House
On December 14, 1825, the military units of the Russian army were ordered to swear their allegiance to new czar Nicholas I. However, the young officers abhorred this idea and raised their regiments to bring democracy to th... more »
Romance and revolution
Mr Peter G George | Ellon, Aberdeenshire United Kingdom | 12/27/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The Captivating Star of Happiness is set in the period during and after the attempt to overthrow Tsar Nikolai I in December 1825. The revolutionaries, known to history as the Decembrists, were from the wealthy upper class, but sought to make Russia a less autocratic society and to free the serfs from their bondage. It is easy to see why this historical period would appeal to the authorities in Soviet Russia. Even if the Decembrists were far from being communists, their revolt could at least be portrayed as a forerunner to the revolution of 1917. The film is however far from being a propaganda piece. It strives to tell the story with fairness. The Tsar is not portrayed as a monster and the Decembrists are not idealised, but rather shown with all their faults.
It is evident from the beginning that the revolt has failed and soon the leaders of the plot are exiled to Siberia. The focus of the film thereafter is as much on romance as politics with a large section devoted to the attempt of the wives and lovers of the revolutionaries to be reunited with their men. It is here that the film works best. As a history of the events of 1825 it is somewhat confused, with numerous flashbacks, which make the narrative quite hard to follow. When the film focuses on the difficulties, which the women faced in a nightmarish journey to Siberia, the story becomes both moving and powerful. The tyranny they face is that of the petty official who won't provide them with the necessary permit or pass. The film suggests that it is this type of bureaucratic tyranny as much as the autocracy of the Tsars, which kept Russia backward for so long.
The film runs nearly three hours, but retains the viewer's interest throughout. It has some powerful scenes and is filmed with great lavishness with a huge cast dressed in authentic looking costumes. There are some difficulties in following the details of the story, especially at the beginning. There are a multitude of characters and it doesn't help that nearly everyone speaks both Russian and French with the French dialogue translated in voiceover into Russian. Given the complicated flashback structure of the film it is easy at times to get a little lost. Nevertheless this is a film well worth watching. The acting is uniformly first rate, the filming is often stunning and the story is powerful and involving. The Captivating Star of Happiness should be enjoyed by anyone interested in Russian film.