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still from The Story of Asya Klyachina (Andrei Konchalovsky, SU 1967)

De geschiedenis van Asja

Andrei Konchalovsky / SUHH, 1967 / 95 min.

This portrait of a Russian village community filmed in documentary style impresses with its keen observations and the resilience of the villagers. The independent Asya and her two lovers provide a light touch.

poster The Story of Asya Klyachina (Andrei Konchalovsky, SU 1967)

As with his debut The First Teacher (1965), the setting for Andrei Konchalovsky’s second film is the Russian countryside. The strong-willed farmworker Asya is torn between two men, but eventually decides to go her own way. Konchalovsky intersperses her story with other stories reflecting the Soviet Union’s turbulent history. Farmers look back on their experiences as soldiers at the front, an old man relives painful memories of a labour camp.

Konchalovsky presents it all in documentary style, with the villagers playing themselves. They are marked by their hard lives, but have remained unbroken. The film’s intuitive authenticity gives it a power which still impresses today. The Soviet authorities made sure Asya’s Happiness was not released abroad, even though the censors had made Konchalovsky ‘cut and cull’ the film. It was only made available to western filmgoers in 1987.

Doyen of Russian cinema

Andrei Konchalovsky started out as a co-writer on Tarkovsky's debut Ivan’s Childhood (1962), now he is the doyen of Russian cinema. His latest feature film Dear Comrades! will premiere this year. The film centres on a forgotten episode from the years of the Thaw: a brutally suppressed workers’ strike in the southern Russian town of Novocherkassk.

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Details

Director

Andrei Konchalovsky

Production year

1967

Country

SUHH

Original title

Istoriya Asi Klyatsinoy, kotoraya lyubila, da ne vyshla zamuzh

Length

95 min.

Language

Russian

Subtitles

NLD

Format

35mm

Part of

Russian Thaw

Russia, 2021: in the wake of Putin’s latest election victory, reforms seem further away than ever. How different things were in the late 1950s, when Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet Union’s new leader following the death of Stalin, gave an impulse for change. This period, which came to be known as the ‘thaw’, gave rise to classics such as Ballad of a Soldier (1959, Grigorii Chukhrai) and The Cranes Are Flying (1957, Michail Kalatozov); a new generation of filmmakers (Tarkovsky, Shepitko) also stepped into the spotlight.

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still from The Story of Asya Klyachina (Andrei Konchalovsky, SU 1967)
still from The Story of Asya Klyachina (Andrei Konchalovsky, SU 1967)

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