Russian Films You Should Be Aware of

Because things get complicated in 1978, with the release of Zloi dukh Iambuya (The Evil Spirit of the Yambui, Boris Buneev): adapted from a short story by Grigori Fedoseev published in 1966, the film takes place in an isolated region of Siberia, in 1949. Its protagonist, a Russian anthropologist, studies a group of traditional hunters. Make a visit to and you can come up with the finest deals.

As the hero sets out to find a missing member of his team, he is warned by the hunters that this is a warning of the “spirit of the region” to those who came on to bother. Incredulous, he struggles to find the trace of the disappeared, who is followed by others, in increasingly mysterious and brutal conditions; it was not until two-thirds of the film that he discovered that it was a cannibal bear, of gigantic size. The confrontation takes on the appearance of a nightmare duel, before the animal perishes a terrible death, engulfed in the marshes.

The feature film literally flirts with the horror film:

Of course, the viewer discovers at the end a rational explanation for what presented itself as a manifestation of the supernatural. The fact remains that, if we refer to our attempt to define the genre, it does come close.

  • The action takes place in an exotic and desolate country; hunters are both close and different in their uses; the fantastic element is present through belief in an “evil spirit”; the music is particularly dismal; the visual effects, above all, are self-explanatory: the presence of hemoglobin (following a bear injury) is clearly visible in several scenes; several close-ups dwell on unattractive elements: a hunter shows that his ear has been torn off by the bear; during a meal, very close-ups linger on the skulls of raw devoured elk; the presence of the bear, hidden for a long time from the spectator, is signified by a soundtrack saturated with grunts and the violence of the tremors that the animal provokes during its attacks against dwellings.

His death, finally, is particularly striking. A scene takes up these different elements to inspire fear in a brutal way: the scientist decides to watch the bear overnight. Exhausted, he ends up falling asleep. The film is tinged with red and when the hero thinks he is awake, suddenly he sees appearing before him a deformed and roaring figure of the beast; firing “instinctively” with his rifle, he then contemplates his bloodstained hands, before waking up, drenched in sweat.

With Yamboui’s Evil Spirit, horrific presences take a new course in Soviet cinema.

It is hardly surprising then, if the film’s chief operator, Anatoli Grichko, is to be believed that the Soviet press called it “the first of its kind in the USSR” 21. However, it essentially belongs to the genre of an adventure film. Its overall tone is far from the hysteria characteristic of the horror film, the loss of bearings for the viewer. Inspired by popular literature in the USSR in the 1960s which used a taste for Elsewhere and otherness in general Buneev’s film, like its illustrious predecessor Dersu Uzala (Akira Kurosawa, 1975) is part of a cosmos that man gradually tames. The conquest of Siberia, a metaphor on the part of the unknown and savage in a world seemingly tamed by science, is carried out inexorably, obeying the intangible laws of History.