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. 8

  • This Is How We Live Homecoming
  • Rating: ****
  • Audience: High School to Adult
  • Price: Public performance: $59.95 Series (public): $575.00
  • Date: Copyright 1987. Released 1990.
  • Descriptors: Soviet Union - History. Teenagers - Soviet Union. Afghanistan - Soviet occupation.
  • Production Information: Live action, Film transfer. Produced by Vladimir Oseledchik (How We Live), Tatyana Chubakova (Homecoming). Color, b&w. Russian . Subtitled. 12, 17 min.
  • Available from: The Video Project 5332 College Ave., Ste. 101 Oakland, CA 94618 (510) 655-9050, (800) 4-PLANET
  • Cataloging: ||Soviet Union - History - 1953-|| Afghanistan - History - Soviet occupation, 1979-1989
  • Print Entry #: 1:1936
  • Reviewer: Judith Gray

    This Is How We Live is a 30-minute Soviet documentary program that looks at the current alienation of various groups of Soviet young people, focusing primarily on the "punks" and the "fascists." This and 21 other films have been released on 12 videotapes under the series title, Glasnost Film Festival. The programs are recorded in Russian with very legible English subtitles.

    Without giving any background, the director of this production plunges the viewer into an interview with a group of "punk" teenagers who look much like their American counterparts, with wild hair styles, radical clothing, etc. Segments of live rock concerts, showing both performers and participants, punctuate the interview. Then the camera focuses on some very clean-cut conservative-looking young men who explain that their group has a program that will solve many of the current Soviet problems. As they outline their agenda, it sounds very much like Hitler's program, and indeed their only objection to Hitler's way is that it did not go far enough. The third major voice of contention is that of a teacher, who verbalizes her opinion that the Soviet schools are a major reason for the youths' alienation. As she talks, the camera shows scenes of young teenagers in what appears to be a middle school.

    Considering that this is a documentary, the producer has chosen well-focused visuals. The interviewees speak in audible Russian, and the subtitles are readable at all times. The cutting and shifting from one perspective and group to another, and the integration of historic news clips from the World War II era, are smoothly done.

    This program should spur consideration of the many points of comparison between youth in the Soviet Union and in the United States. It should also raise questions in the viewer's mind about how prevalent these young people's views are throughout the Soviet Union, what percentage of Russian youth belong to the various groups, and what changes they will effect. This program would be a useful addition to high school and college courses in contemporary Soviet life, and for adult groups studying changes in US-Soviet relations.

    The other program on this videotape, a 17-minute documentary, is one of the first to offer Soviet veterans' comments on the Russo-Afghan war. The disillusionment expressed in this film begins with the opening scene of tanks passing burned-out skeletons of destroyed military vehicles, and builds through interviews with veterans. Even in the time of celebration of meeting loved ones back in Russia, most of the interviewees say that no one understands what they went through. They talk of the loss of morality during war - of how easy it is to kill and plunder. In one very poignant vignette, a mother reflects on the unnecessary loss of her son in the war. Regret, anger, and feelings of loss of morality and wasted lives and time are the major themes in this program. The closing segments focus on the veterans' attempts to put meaning back into their lives.

    The producer chose to film this entire documentary in black and white, giving it a very "classic" feeling. The background mood music is so effective that it transcends the language barrier. Consistent with the classic tone, an introductory paragraph (in English) precedes the documentary, explaining the time frame and giving just enough background so that the viewer is tuned in to the film's contents. As with the other film on this tape (This Is How We Live), the dialogue is in audible Russian, with very readable English subtitles.

    This is a basic antiwar film that could help an American audience compare the Afghan war with our Vietnam War. This program could also be used as part of a Russian history course, or with courses about war in general. Other prospective uses would be in a literature course, film study course, and in counseling returned veterans. Although it contains some war scenes, it is not a factual, statistical recounting of the war itself.

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