Capturing the Marvelous: Ukrainian Poetic Cinema

The Stone Cross

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The Stone Cross
Kaminnyi khrest | Leonid Osyka, 1968
USSR | 1978 minutes

Based on an Ivan Drach screenplay that combines elements from several Vasyl Stefanyk short stories, The Stone Cross is the story of Ivan Didukh, a peasant who decides that the only way to help his family out of poverty is to move to Canada. Just before he leaves, however, a thief breaks into his home. Following the custom of the village, Ivan convenes a council of his neighbors to decide the man’s fate. Moved to pity by the thief’s own circumstances, Ivan forgives him, yet his neighbors demand the man be put to death. Ivan erects a stone cross in the cemetery after the thief is killed, but the monument comes to symbolize the death of a way of life. Osyka films the action as if he were capturing some kind of ceremony and, indeed, the sense that these characters are enacting some kind of preordained ritual gives the film an otherworldly feel.

Series: Capturing the Marvelous: Ukrainian Poetic Cinema

Venue: Walter Reade Theater, Howard Gilman Theater

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