Silent Souls

The rites and rituals of the Merja people-an ethnic minority originally from the Volga region of Russia-form the backbone of this lyrical, sensual and dreamlike film about love and loss. After beloved wife Tanja dies, Miron calls on his best friend, the photographer (and the film's narrator) Aist, to help him with his final goodbye. As the ravishingly photographed story unfolds, it becomes apparent that Aist and Tanja were once more than friends. The two men, wordlessly and expertly observing the ancient rituals, lovingly prepare Tanja's body. She is then wrapped in a blanket and laid in the back seat of the car for the long trip to the riverbank, where they will cremate her remains. Water plays a central role in the film, and in Merja life. In fact, there is no death better than by drowning-although no Merjan would ever drown himself, because it would be impolite to pass others on the way to heaven. Merja myths and traditions gradually transform this internationally award-winning film into a haunting fairy tale.

This page may by only partially complete. For additional information about this film, view the original entry on our archived site.