«I wish to speak» 1975
1975 / USSR / 145 min. / 2 parts / drama/ Lenfilm studio
Inna Churikova – Elizaveta Uvarova
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A story of a woman who was promoted from an ordinary worker to the mayor of a small town. When she assumes her new position, previously occupied by a man, Elizaveta Uvarova suppresses her female instincts without a second thought, and sacrifices her personal life for the sake of society. Goal-driven and self-confident, Elizaveta is determined to improve the lives of those around her. Despite her contrition and noble intentions, fate punishes her in the cruelest manner – it takes Elizaveta’s son away. However, the paradox of Elizaveta’s nature is such that even this great tragedy does not destroy her spirit and her desire to improve the society.
About the film
After a futile attempt to get permission from the officials to make a film about Joan of Arch, Panfilov and Churikova decide to satisfy the ministry’s request and make a film on a contemporary subject. However, while making a commissioned film, Panfilov manages to produce another personal creation. He turns the widely accepted dogmas upside-down by making a film about a woman who does not find herself but looses her identity in serving the state.
The character that Churikova and Panfilov create is in many ways similar to the previous ones. However, if the characters of Panfilov’s earlier films evoke ones sympathy, then Elizaveta Uvarova is there to encourage critical analysis.
Why did her son die? Was it an unfortunate accident? Or was this tragedy determined by Uvarova’s own lifestyle and personality, by her dogmatic belief in the ideals, by the shallowness of her outlook, and by her passion for sport? (The terrible irony lies in the fact that Uvarova is a champion in shooting, and it is the tool of her success, a gun, which kills her son).
This tragic story of a woman in a men’s world is told through as a flash-back. Starting from the unfortunate death of the boy, the film together with the protagonist retrieves into the past, into the time when the son is a new-born, where he is growing up and has a future ahead.
From the moment of assuming her new position, Elizaveta’s life is constituted of a conflict between her feminine nature and the genderless sense of social duty. This perpetual struggle between the two forces is played out on her imperturbable yet fragile and vulnerable face.
The theme of a working woman always found resonance in the soviet society, and with time, when the notion of family and marriage became all the more obscure, Panfilov’s work acquires new significance.
The film was awarded a prize at the international film festival in Karlovy Vary. Critics have praised it for the daring attempts to find a new means of cinematic expression and montage methods, which appeal to viewers’ co-authorship.
“Inna Churikova is absolutely ingenious in the part of the town mayor, Elizaveta Uvarova, an iron lady of a provincial type. The idea of the film came to the director when he’d heard a real story of a woman who went back to work immediately after her son’s funeral. Panfilov realised that the dream of the Soviet Party to produce a new type of human specie became true.
Shot in 1975 the film presented a positive and a determined heroine, who lives for her country and the cause, however, the film also spoke for the first time about the dehumanising powers of the regime, where the sense of official duty takes over all other human senses.
The film features wonderful performances from Nikolai Gubenko, Leonid Bronevoi and Vasily Shukshin”
— Valery Kichin, “Rossiyskaya Gazeta”
Inna Churkikova – actress
“ I have met people like my heroine, Elizaveta Uvarova, in real live. I know them and I have respect for them. Although I continue to discover my character, sometimes I feel that I know everything about her. There are other times, when I stop and stare at her as though she were a stranger. I also find it hard to connect my personality to her character.”
“ I think in all of his works, Gleb was some seven or ten years ahead of his time. Such is the case with this film. Some said that he is trying to kill two birds with one stone. That he wants to be accepted by both parties. Thought it remains unclear who where those parties in question. As it turns out, the film stood the test of time. Gleb made a wonderful honest film, about the product and the victim of those times. Who is also a talented and dignified character, Elizaveta Uvarova. I wish to Speak , in my opinion, is an extremely precise witness of those times.”