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Magdana's Donkey

USSR, 1955 (MIFF 1958, Programme 19)

Director: Z. Harshiladze

Set in the 19th century in Southern Russia this is a simple poetic story of poverty. In the. village of Kartli in Georgia lives the widow Magdana, a poor peasant, with her three children. They live by walking for miles town market every day to sell to fellow sour milk &ndash: "matsoni". One day. her find an exhausted donkey on the road and, nursing it back to health, it becomes their valuable possession. A coal-dealer recognises the donkey, which fie had left for dead, and obtains A court order to have it returned to him.

This sad, yet beautiful film is expressed in a simple &ndash: almost documentary &ndash: style. Apart from an unfortunate flaw at the end, the seemingly factual representation of uncomplaining acceptance of injustice and misery make the film most moving and full of an austere dignity.

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