The Lord Eagle


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

The Lord Eagle
"Novikov's film has the virtue of being a simple tale that is well told."

This gentle story of an old man and his wife and their unexpected winter guest, set in the northern Russian province of Yakutia, took home the Golden St George at last year's Moscow Film Festival.

Set in the Thirties, debut director Eduard Novikov - moving up from cinematography duties - adapts Vasily Yakovlev's book The Larch That Grew Old With Me, to tell a story that's as fascinating for its ethnographic insight into the region as it is for its folkloric tale. The end result is likely to be enjoyed by older children as well as parents, who might have previously fallen for the likes of The Eagle Huntress.

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Nikifor (Stepan Petrov) and his wife (Zoya Oppous) live a simple existence in their isolated, traditional balagan house, some distance from the nearest village, where they tend their cattle and are aiming to make it through another winter. When an eagle appears in the larch tree outside their home, they fear it may be a bad omen but, as the season progresses it seems all may not be as it first appears.

Novikov's film has the virtue of being a simple tale that is well told. Although the fact that the eagle had to be shot separately from the actors does show in scenes where the actors reactions are a bit on the broad side, the more day-to-day back and forth between the sometimes bickering pair is nicely worked. They are believable as a unit and we care about what happens to them and about their beliefs.

Shots of the eagle itself capture its essential wildness and cinematographer Semion Amanatov shoots the many candlelit scenes inside the pair's home in a way that brings a warmth to the story, operating in contrast to his chillier framing in the snowy outdoors. There's also an affecting spiritual aspect that builds through the course of the film, hinging on a relationship and respect between humans and nature that feels as though it has evolved over centuries.

Novikov also gives a sense of the region at the time, when Soviet rule-making is beginning to impinge upon traditions like those seen here, a reminder things can be lost with change as well as gained.

Reviewed on: 12 Mar 2019
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The Lord Eagle packshot
An old man and his wife find they have an unexpected guest one winter.

Director: Eduard Novikov

Writer: Semyon Ermolaev, Vasili Yakovlev

Starring: Stepan Petrov, Zoya Popova, Afanasi Fyodorov, Prokopiy Danilov, Prokopiy Ivanov, Stepan Petrov

Year: 2018

Runtime: 80 minutes

Country: Russia


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The Eagle Huntress