I recently watched this movie as I wanted to learn more about soviet Russia. Also how this effected neighbouring countries.
Well I came across the movie called Bitter Harvest. I’m not going to give a huge description because then it becomes boring doesn’t it. So here’s what it’s all about.
The movies opening scene is two young children playing near a pond. They dive in and hold hands underwater which I thought was beautiful as you see them growing up over the years. The young boy Yuri (Played by Max Irons when he grows up) is infatuated by the young girl Natalka (played by Samantha barks when Natalka’s older).
Yuri isn’t a fighter he’s very different from his grandfather who is known amongst men as one of the bravest soldiers as well as his father. What I love is that his father doesn’t force him to fight or learn to fight. In fact he lets him mould into whatever he inspires to be. Hence as Yuri gets older he becomes an artist.
Yuri and Natalka’s family along with the other villagers are Kulaks which is another term for affluent farmers.
Now all is well and yes there is strain and tension in the country but it becomes more apparent when the Bolsheviks enter the village and demand that the Kulaks lands be given to Stalin and they will no longer be owned by them. Inevitably there is resistance and fighting and bloodshed.
The soviet union demanded collectivisation of land and farms and livestock, they believed it would increase the food supply for urban population, and the supply for raw materials etc ..
Now orders come from above and The Holodomor also known as the soviet starvation of Ukraine begins . The Holodomor was a man-made famine in Soviet Ukraine in 1932 – 1933 that killed an officially estimated 7 million to 10 million people. I was actually horrified when I found out about the facts and numbers.
So back to the story, Yuri becomes ever more frustrated with what is happening around him and joins the anti-Bolshevik revolutionaries . He begins fighting back, even spends time in a jail and manages to escape. Meanwhile his wife ( yes he married her before leaving for Kiev. Now I don’t want to drag on so here’s everything in the next paragraph.
What we see is how people are silenced through dictatorship. This absolutism truly ruined people’s lives resulting in death. No one was safe and no one could speak their mind. The women in this case Natalka was forced to spend time with the general ( I think) from the Bolshevik army – this would have never happened if Stalin would have not had the power to enforce cruel rules and ideas on the innocents.
Anyways, I wanted the movie to be more in depth . I don’t know . I didn’t feel it explained the extremities of war and of Holodomor like movies such as say Defiance or the boy in the striped pyjamas and then the magnificent saving private Ryan. I don’t want to give away the ending for those who want to see it but I would still say it was a good film- not amazing but the scene where everyone is in the fields is just stunning. The scenic beauty of that is one that’s stuck in my mind! Hope you liked the review do share your views.