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The film East/West is directed by Regis Wargnier and produced by Yves Marmion. Among those who wrote it are Sergei Bodro and Regis Wargnier. It was first released in the year 1999 and had a running time of two hours. It is set in various countries including France, Russia, Spain, Bulgaria, and Ukraine. It is available in French and Russian languages.
The movie East/West depicts the situation in the postwar USSR. The former émigrés are given the soviet citizenship and an amnesty. They are then invited to come back to their motherland to help to restructure the country. Most émigrés decide to remain abroad despite this amnesty; the others chose to go back to their country that they framed the Holy Russia. One of those individuals that returned to Russia was Alexei with his french wife Marie and son Sergery. This was later discovered that it was Stalin’s’ tactical step to get rid of ‘traitors’.
As they arrive, the colleagues of Alexei are executed on the spot and others are sent to the Gulag. However, the family of Alexei manages to escape and is taken to the city of Ukraine, Kiev. The young man was a doctor and he earned money working at a factory.
He is later given a single room in a commune house after being posted to an infirmary of a factory that deals with textiles. There is a complete lack of privacy and constant denunciations from their neighbors in the place where they are told to stay. Alexei accepts this situation while Marie, his wife, refuses and eager to return to France. Alexei, however, manages to shut down all her efforts to return to France. Of course,Marie is not satisfied with her condition and looks for any opportunity to inform the French government of it. She tries to take up such option when a French theatre group led by Gabriel Develay comes to Kiev on a tour. She manages to hand Gabrielle a letter, and later when she comes back home, she decides to escape from Alexei because of his submissiveness to Stalin.
Marie seems to find solace in a seventeen-year-old boy named Sasha who lives in the neighborhood. The boy is a competitive swimmer and this ability has made him to be out of military service. Sasha also wants to go abroad where he will be a free man, away from the decrees of Stalin’s government. Marie does everything possible to ensure that this dream is achieved. The boy still continues to do his practice in swimming to take part in the competition.
During the competition, Sasha gains a victory in the national race; and the NKVD suspects him, that is why he is not selected for the Europian championship inVienna. Instead, he is sent to the Black Sea to a training camp to be away from the dangerous influence of Marie. After this, Marie is left lonely and decides to reunite with Alexei.
Sasha escapes from his training camp and manages to swim nineteen kilometers until he finds a Turkish freighter. That is not the end of the story, his story gets to almost all the western media and the Russia are enraged by this (David H & Budd. 2002).
Marie is also arrested by the NKVD and after being tortured, she confesses to masterminding the defection of Sasha in order to make CIA plans successful. Because of her confession, he is sentenced for a long term in jail in Gulag. After being thrown to the jail, her case does not just end there. Six years later, during ‘the thaw’ of Khrushchev, Alexei manages to overthrow the Marie’s conviction. She is released, but looks traumatized and broken with no hope for anything from this life. She later recovers from this trauma with the help of her husband’s love and care.
Some years later, Alexei decides to satisfy the wish of his wife. One day accompanying the trade mission to Bulgaria, he tells her that Gabrielle is waiting in a lobby for Marie so that she can be taken to the French embassy. Marie has waited over ten years for such an opportunity. However, she is not willing to leave his husband To Marie’s surprise, he disappoints her telling her that he is a soviet citizen, and that the embassy will protect her alone.
In the epilogue Marie and Sergei cross the Bulgarian-Greek border. Alexei is seen walking in a moving train and smiling while on his way to Kiev because he becomes aware that his family is already free from the adversaries of Stalin’s authorities. Thereafter, we realize that Alexei remains in Gulag while working as a doctor in the camp of Sakhalin Island; and in the year 1987 he is allowed to reunite with his family in France.
To conclude the essay on this film, we realize that the family of Alexei was going through many problems under the military rule of Stalin. They were invited back to their country and they came back in hope of better life. To their surprise they met a hard life. His wife was not satisfied with the living conditions in Russia and looked for any means to get back to France. Her feeble attempts are turned down time and again, and instead getting the freedom she was longing for, she was thrown to the jail for six years. Fotunately, her husband managed to overthrow the case against her (Joann & Jefferson, 2000).
It is remarkable that Alexei is a very patient man and knows what he is doing. This ability enables him to survive better compared to his wife who feels denied her freedom of privacy by the government. But in the end of the movie, the entire family is reunited and they continue their lives as normal in France.