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Song From the Southern Seas (DVD Review)

24 Jul, 2010 By: Angelique Flores

Street 7/27/10
Global Film Initiative
$24.95 DVD
Not rated.
In Russian with English subtitles.

This beautiful film from Kazakhstan is a universally touching story about love and the clash of cultures.

Ivan and Maria, a blonde, blue-eyed Russian couple, live next to a Kazakh couple, Assan and Aisha, near the Steppe region. Their friendship is pushed off kilter when Maria gives birth to a dark-skinned, brunette son. Both Ivan and Aisha assume their spouses have had an affair with each other. Still Ivan raises the boy as his own, while he and Aisha harbor their suspicions for the next 15 years.

When their respective problems come to a head, Ivan and Assan each run away in search of answers. Ivan visits his grandfather, who explains his family tree and history, revealing that it is his ancestry behind his son’s dark skin color. Left behind sad and lonely, the two wives renew their friendship.

Later on, Assan and Aisha have a child who looks more like it belongs to the other couple.

In between scenes is a story about a wandering man told with elegant stick puppets that offers a parable and some insight into the main part of the film.

Song of the Southern Seas has some tender moments of friendship and love, but also some painful, emotional scenes of racism and violence. The two opposing themes come together in the story of Ivan’s ancestors, who married outside their culture even though it meant sacrificing their relationships with their own families, their religion and even their lives.

As usual with the Global Lens films, this one comes with an enriching discussion guide and information about Kazakhstan.

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