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A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
Norwegian Film - 1970
Directed by Caspar Wrede


    Based on the novel by Aleksander Solzhenitsyn, the bleakness and deprivation of life inside a Siberian labor camp is told through the experiences of one day in the life of one prisoner, Ivan Denisovich.  Watching his concentrated struggle to survive, we see that every waking moment must be focused upon survival.  An extra morsel of food, a bit of tobacco, a stolen moment of warmth, any of these things could make the difference between living and dying.

    The relationships between the prisoners are symbiotic, revealing an interdependency supported by a rigid system of checks and balances by which they must adhere.  A prisoner knows that a kindness must not be forgotten.  Some inmates take turns telling each other about their arrests and subsequent imprisonment, while others hold heated artistic debates.  We appreciated the restraint that the director employed, choosing not to over-dramatize the character of Ivan.  The drama of Ivan's experience is in his bleak resignation to his fate more than any emotional response he might have.

    If you've read Solzhenitsyn's novel, you may find the sets different than expected, we did.  But, having never been in a Siberian labor camp, we'll take the director's word for it.

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