Copyright 1995 ABC-CLIO. This review was taken from the ABC-CLIO Video Rating Guide for Libraries on CD-ROM, a 5-year compilation of over 8900 video titles and reviews, 1990-1994. For information regarding order VRGL CD-ROM, contact: ABC-CLIO, P.O. Box 1911, Santa Barbara, CA 93116-1911; 805-968-1911

This following text has been included in the UCB Media Resources Center Web site with the kind permission of the publishers.

Glasnost Film Festival, No. 2

  • The Temple
  • Rating: ***
  • Audience: High School to Adult
  • Price: Public performance: $59.95 Series (public): $575.00
  • Date: Copyright 1987. Released 1990.
  • Descriptors: Russian Orthodox Church. Soviet Union - Religion. Christianity.
  • Production Information: Live action, Film transfer. Produced by Vladimir Dyaknov. Color. Russian. Subtitled . 59 min.
  • Available from: The Video Project 5332 College Ave., Ste. 101 Oakland, CA 94618 (510) 655-9050, (800) 4-PLANET
  • Cataloging: 281.947 Religion - Soviet Union|| Christianity - Soviet Union
  • Print Entry #: 1:1935
  • Reviewer: James E. Reppert

    A definition of the word "faith" could be found in The Temple, second in the Glasnost Film Festival series of 22 Soviet documentaries. Narrated in Russian with English subtitles, The Temple dramatically illustrates how a burned Russian Orthodox monastery is rebuilt by a Zagorsk community. The importance of the church in everyday life is shown from a variety of perspectives. It is remarkable to note that this program could not have been produced a few short years ago.

    Before the Bolshevik Revolution, Orthodoxy was the honored state religion. As a result, the clergy found it difficult to deal with the new Soviet dominance. Many priests involved in subversive activity were seen to be counterrevolutionaries by the government. An 80-year-old priest named Nikolai describes that early struggle. Life in a monastery is explored, with its behind-the-scenes activities, such as icon painting. The rebuilding of the monastery is shown to be an affirmation of faith. Orthodox convents are also examined, and it is clear that prayer is an important part of their activity. It is thought-provoking to realize the hundreds of years of tradition that go into their services.

    While the photography is basically good, lighting is often quite dark, particularly in the indoor shots. Natural sound during services is excellent, and the pacing is brisk. Footage at the outset is both grainy and filled with unnecessary movement. Subtitles are large and easily readable.

    The Temple is extraordinary in its unflinching look at the role of religion in Soviet life. Their faith was one of the ties that held people together when church and state became officially separated.

    An appropriate addition for college collections, this video allows the viewer to see how other cultures have clung to religious beliefs in order to deal with authoritarian circumstances.

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