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Cultural Boundaries and Intercommunication in Two Films from the North-West Of Russia

Tatjana Kudrjavtseva


This article discusses two recent films devoted to the borderland regions of North-West Russia: Island (Ostrov 2006) and Cuckoo (Kukushka 2002). In the first film, the borderland to the White Sea and to the inhabitable is the site of a Christian monastery. People go there on semi-legal pilgrimages in order to obtain definitive answers to their problems. The Northern borderland acquires a holy and cathartic status in this film. The second film, by contrast, deals in particular with the problem of miscommunication between representatives of three different nations, a Russian, a Finn and a Sami, who are accidentally brought together by the ever shifting boundaries between enemies in World War Two. They are unable to communicate their essential identities, the kind of identities Island seeks, but find their own way of non-verbal communication, friendship and romance. The Northern borderland in this film is therefore a space of both humour and mutual generosity. By applying a broadly conceived cultural-historical approach to these films, rather than one based primarily in film studies, this article will explore both the reasons for and the effects of these contrasting representations of Russia's North-Western borderlands.

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Print ISSN: 0886-5655
Online ISSN: 2159-1229