The term “forced annexation” contains a violence that makes the dark heart of Vladimir Munkuev’s “Nuchcha” cruel, if the suffering and humiliation of the indigenous peoples of the Yakutia region of eastern Siberia is unequally dramatically portrayed. The eroded years of the Russian Empire. Based on a short story by Wacław Sieroszewski, the film is most effective when its narrow view of a single, desperate poor Yakut couple allows the place to be captivated by this little seen time and the simple anthropological details of the place. But as human drama loses its value as its metaphorical tendencies become stronger and the characters eventually turn into ciphers, they are more important than they are to represent them.
But in the obligatory beginning, Habzi (Pavel Kolesov), a Yakut farmer, lives even isolated from the small village where the rest of the locals live, and his wife Kerems (Irina Mikhailova) represents nothing but themselves – as well as their grief. Extraordinary physical difficulties for the child and to make a living from this forbidden land. Although it was a surprisingly warm and relatively green Siberian summer, the trap that Habji left in the forest remained intact and the baskets he dredged from the lake were empty of fish. The local shaman performs a ritual, but declares it useless because the spirits of the forest and the water have simply abandoned the place. “I forgot the taste of the meat,” Kerems said.
Their prospects look grim, as Habzi travels to the village to beg for work or food from Yakut Pradhan (Innocent Lukovatsev), a petty tyrant whose own outspoken mother (Zoya Baginanova) has deeply criticized his obedience to Russian authorities. Yakutia, the ancestral homeland of these semi-nomadic minorities এক once “handsome and proud people” according to their folklore, is now being used as a place of exile for enemies of the Zarist regime: “We are living in a Russian prison,” says the old woman. The chief orders him to accommodate one such Russian political prisoner, Kostya (Sergei Gilov), so Habji returns to Kerems without their much-needed supplies, but feeds them with extra mouths.
The dynamics between these three, who live in the deep clearing of virtually inaccessible forests, are at first drawn with great complexity. Between Kostya and Habzi, who have spoken in Russian since his time as an enlistment, their demand for impending survival is an uncomfortable, peaceful ceasefire as a reason for other considerations. Kerems, who is illiterate and speaks only Yakut, is coldly wary of the unintentional stranger: “Bone and smelly” is his verdict on Kost.
All that changes – rather abruptly – when Habji is brought back to the village by the chief, and Kerems is left alone to nurse the critically ill Kosta, who unexpectedly gathers under his care and begins to look at the hut, and Kerems himself, suitable for the colony. As the region. In a deadly showdown, it has been made clear that even the lowest Russian prisoner can consider himself superior to the highest tribal chief, and has the right to accept only that which will not be given freely.
It is fair to say that the last animal that Cerems supplies their precious milk with is their last cow. Munkuev’s first feature, with its declining patriarchal relationship, focusing on the colonists instead of the colonists and placing it at the beginning and end of the expansion era, could be the opposite mirror image of Kelly Richard’s “First Cow”. But Richard’s film never loses sight of the symbolic value of his human characters, and “Nuuccha” (the name they give to Kostya, meaning simply “Russian”) turns into a miserable procession of rape, subjugation, and literal occupation, becoming emotionally detached from horror. Very simple, in favor of analyzing their application in the big picture.
Yet, Munkuev, who is Yakut himself, delivers some truly enlightened sequences here, further enhanced by Dennis Klebelev’s sumbar, more beautiful photography. In a goalless, absorbed state we see Habji’s quick fingers set a rabbit’s trap, or twist his stiff torso when he swings a swing; We see Kerems adding culture to milk to make surat (a type of yogurt), or pulling huge sod of turf from the forest floor to insulate the hut against the winter. At one point, we observe an Ethanesian ritual that is too bizarre to be a myth, including an open tomb, an intricate formal attire, and what looks like a cow’s gut membrane that extends eerily over the head. There is truth in these scenes, but there is an art and a mystery that is scary and solo and suggest that Munkuev can sing many more songs about these handsome, proud people and their stolen world.