1910, the village of Ytyk-Kyuyol. The funeral of the deceased tedder is taking place in the local church. He, looking at something, suddenly collapsed, and the church servant has been reading prayers over his body for the second day. Suddenly, the dead man, like Lazarus, rises from the coffin, which stuns everyone around him. Very soon it turns out that Stepan, that’s the name of the peasant, suffers from an extremely rare disease: he periodically falls into lethargic dreams, during which his body grows cold and his pulse drops to one beat per minute. However, the townspeople are convinced that a restless spirit haunts their homes, and only the intercession of Ivan Popov, artist, researcher, and son of a local parish priest, helps smooth out the unpleasant situation. After that, the “resurrected” with all his heart falls in love with his savior and even joins him on a journey through the surrounding settlements, which the ethnographer conceived to collect interesting artifacts for the museum.
Despite the semi-mystical beginning, “Don’t Bury Me…” is based on a true story that happened to Ivan Vasilyevich Popov, now somewhat forgotten, but nonetheless a talented painter and founder of fine arts in Yakutia. And in general, the picture of Lyubov Borisova (“The sun does not set on me”) is more like a documentary than a feature film. The heroes wander from one village to another, communicate with local residents, take their portraits with a special camera and periodically exchange especially remarkable trinkets. Also, the creators do not hide the fact that they were largely guided by the photographs of Popov himself when selecting costumes, locations and other accessories. Even the shooting format, 3:4, was inspired by these same images.
And we can say that in their desire to make everything authentic and in accordance with the realities of the beginning of the 20th century, Lyubov Borisova and other authors involved in the production of the image reached a super-real level – everything looks so alive and somewhat decorative. at the same time. Meager dwellings with an extremely ascetic interior and ubiquitous nature, but at the same time they all look clean and tidy, even a girl with smallpox who lived in forced self-isolation for three years so as not to infect anyone. However, this is by no means a reproach to the film. On the contrary, it is very beautiful and full of inner energy, which is strikingly different from many arthouse films that are being released now. While those, as it sometimes seems, compete in an unspoken competition, plunging deeper into the depths of human suffering, the film “Don’t Bury Me Without Ivan” is filled with bright sunlight and some kind of special worldview, accessible only to Yakuts. Although, probably, this is also achieved due to the fact that the viewer looks at what is happening through the eyes of two main characters, one of whom is an artist, and the other perceives beauty in a special way – it is she who shipped in a lethargic state for several days or even weeks.
Ivan, played by Lithuanian actor Darius Gumauskas (Gerda), is a talented enough person that he could learn to be a doctor (he’s the only one who can feel Stepan’s barely perceptible pulse) and follow in his father’s footsteps and become a cleric. . However, Popov chose ethnography and art, and if you look at it this way, then all of the above areas have something in common: a passion for research, an understanding of people, and something else. And the hero constantly writes down the legends and tales that he heard from travelers in his little book, then examines with interest the kitchen utensils of local craftsmen, then takes pictures of people and beautiful sights, then makes memory cards. The actor is very good at showing that his character really cares about the fate of everyone he meets along the way: from very old old women to young novice storytellers. And Ivan is especially interested and concerned about the fate of the fellow traveler who has followed him.
Stepan, played by Alexander Chichakhov, is a simple Yakut peasant. However, the simplicity of him is not “worse than a robbery”, but something on the verge of bliss. And masterpieces of world art (for example, a reproduction of the “Madonna de Litta”), and ordinary images of nature, be it before dawn – all this touches both the heart of the ancient haymaker and his soul, which it regularly leaves the body through the crown of the head during lethargic dreams. What can I say if he named the calf Deibinche after him? Guess in honor of which artist.
The duet of Stepan and Ivan and their joint journey turned out to be a story very similar to Peter Farrelly’s “Green Book”. The two heroes, who belong to different worlds, nevertheless grow closer and become true friends, and their path resembles a series of stories, some of which resemble adventurous adventures, while others are bitter tragedies.
The original title “Don’t bury me without Ivan” is “kereni korbut”, which literally translates from Yakut as “he who saw the beautiful.” To some extent, this is more suitable for the image, since beauty is one of the main themes of the film. This is reflected in the place of action – Yakutia, both at the beginning of the 20th century and now, is a harsh land. And the viewer will often observe how the people the characters know live in large families in small and frankly flimsy houses. However, how happy they all are. Also, it is no coincidence that among them there are quite a few craftsmen, professional storytellers and other creators. In these places, natural and man-made beauty coexist closely with each other, sharing a common creator: God. However, Lyubov Borisova also shows the dark side of this aesthetic phenomenon. As Dostoevsky wrote, “Beauty is something terrible and terrible.” And indeed, Stepan, because of his hyperresponsiveness to everything beautiful, is forced to live in constant fear of being buried alive. He, too, cannot start a family due to illness. However, the paradox is that you cannot live without beauty either. And the hero of Alexander Chichakhov during the ethnological expedition will be firmly convinced of this.
And the audience will get a well-told and superbly shown story that can even have a therapeutic effect on the viewer – there hasn’t been such a brilliant movie for a long time.