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The Territory (Территория, 2015) directed by Aleksandr Melnik

2017 1 031


Based on the popular Soviet novel of the same title, written by Oleg Kuvaev in 1973 and published in the literary journal Nash sovremennik (Our Contemporary) in 1974. The novel became a so-called "backpacking book” that geologists and others often took with them on trips. Aleksandr Melnik himself says that he always packed the novel on his expeditions around the USSR, in Kamchatka and Chukotka, Sakhalina and Primorye. Long Russian novels with several characters and multiple plot lines can be difficult to adapt to the screen; Kuvaev’s Territory is no exception, but Melnik’s film also consciously deviates from the novel in certain significant ways.

The film begins in 1960, when the Soviet Union is in dire need of gold to finance reconstruction after a devastating war, as well as to fund growing military and space programs that must compete with those of the United States. However, gold discoveries are slowing in the Soviet Union’s far northeast, a vast region called simply the Territory. The region’s Main Geological Administration, located in "City”—5902 km from Moscow—holds a meeting and concludes that the geological surveying and gold prospecting in the Territory must cease.

The legendary lead geologist Il’ia Chinkov (Lavronenko), having sat silently throughout the meeting, stands up and declares his refusal to stop prospecting, convinced that there is gold in the Territory. Promising the Administration that he will find gold, he leaves the City and travels 1410 kilometers back to the Settlement, which is the center of the geological administration of the Territory. Sergushova (Kutepova), a beautiful young journalist newly arrived from Leningrad, announces that she wants to write about the gold of the Territory, and follows Chinkov back to the Settlement. (In fact, she is the one telling the story; her character narrates the film.) Chinkov recruits several more geologists to join him on his mission, sending them off on expeditions—alone or in pairs—across the frozen land to prospect along several rivers where Chinkov believes there might be gold deposits.

reviewed by Holly Myers Kinokultura


You can watch or download The Territory with English subs:

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