Andrea Snow

12 thoughts on “Andrea Snow

  1. andrea snow

    Burnt by The Sun – Nikita Mikhailkov, 1994.

    The opening scene of this film depicts Mitya’s arrival to his living quarters. Dressed in a white suit, he is disapprovingly greeted by a man who appears to be his disheveled caretaker. Mitya, mostly ignoring his cohabitant, proceeds to sit down and take out a gun (we later learn that this was Kotov’s – is this indicative of a form of post-event national guilt?), remove all but one bullet, and enjoy a game of Russian Roulette with himself.

    Later in the sequence of scenes (although chronologically earlier), the audience finds that Mitya’s structured suit is deceptive (or, perhaps, indicative, depending on the approach that the viewer attributes to the film): while he appears orderly, he is representational of a corrupt government. Simultaneously, Kotov and his family are frequently portrayed in flowing linens and “casual” clothing. While this difference in attire is suggestive of the living standard and lifestyle of both the antagonist (Mitya) and the protagonist/deuteragonists (Kotov and his family), I feel that it is difficult to dismiss this dichotomy as irrelevant.

    Mitya’s character is playful with female characters, particularly Marussya (who is overwhelmed by his reappearance into her life) and Nadia… Marussya’s discomfort is emphasized by a scene in which she retreats to a sink and fills a glass of water to a point of overflowing (perhaps this signifies that she is containing a lot of emotional overflow? It later seems to be related to her previous suicide attempt and her lack of knowledge about needing to use water to prevent her blood from coagulating when slitting one’s wrists).

    Something that struck me as interesting in this film (and in most non-American films) is the approach to the human form: nudity is barely acknowledged, let alone emphasized. One of the first few scenes consists of Kotov, Marussya, and Nadia in a banya together – family nudity, or near nudity, is normative and not treated as shameful or unnatural. I feel like there’s probably a ton of inter-disciplinary literature on that.

    From my notes:
    Mitya’s performance of the blind dude in grey reminds me of Odin. “All the summer Santas live in the USSR?”
    Why does everyone keep slapping he maid’s ass? I know that has to have some sort of significance that I don’t understand. It can’t just be comic relief.
    I don’t know what this fireball is. I don’t know what its purpose is. I have to find out. It seems to float through areas where there is a lot of social tension happening, then hovers over the wheat during a stressful moment, and finally hits something (was it a tree?) off in the distance…
    Oh. Oh, this film is about Stalin’s purge of the Communist Party. See ya, Kotov. You were really likeable.

  2. andrea snow

    Twilight of a Woman’s Soul. Evgenii Bauer, 1913.

    The most striking aspect of Bauer’s busy (nearly entropic) set design was the contrast in his use of architecture and décor in relation to the tone of the social situation in each scene. Throughout the film, Vera’s solitude and melancholia seem to be accompanied by settings of dark, architectural environments that emphasize the use of verticals and lead the audience’s eye up and down the set, rather than through. This implies that Vera’s escape into privacy is the result of an unhealthy internal condition, and that private environments do not afford the security of protection. This submission is solidified when Vera attempts to transcend her bourgeois environment for the entertainment of slumming: she comes into contact with Maxim, who lives in a dank and ornament-free environment. The result is depicted as consequential, as Maxim rapes Vera – however, she undertakes a strengthened position and exacts revenge on Maxim for her escape, stabbing him with what appears to be a carving tool or spike.
    In contrast to the morbidity of seclusion, scenes that consist of public socialization are conveyed as having heavy botanical décor. Such scenes are attentive to the theme of nature as Romantic, and to the natural world being a conclusive component of the Russian narrative and cultural identity. Actors in these scenes are engaging in positive social activity, displaying excited facial expressions and interacting within close proximity to one another safely.
    With the introduction of Prince Dol’skii, there is a juxtaposition of both botanical décor and stark architecture, which takes into consideration the narrative plot of the film and foreshadows the conflict that Dol’skii and Vera will face in their relationship. This, at first, seems beautiful and natural, but Vera is uncomfortable with experiencing physical contact with men – however, during a scene in which she is confined to her bed, a bouquet of flowers sits above her, which may signify an introduction (or a return, as we are not given excessive information about Vera’s life prior to the film) to a “natural” state of mind.
    Upon overcoming her condition, they are eventually wed, but it is short-lived when Vera confesses her past to Dol’skii. This, too, is depicted as consequential, as Dol’skii is offended and Vera, in a surprising turn of events, assumes her independence and leaves him.
    In the end, Dol’skii is in a state of despair due to the loss of his beloved. He finds her, having left behind her former self and taken a new identity as an actress, and asks her to return to him. Vera, although possessing a memento of the prince, has found a place in which she is content (if not happy), indicated by vast decorative surroundings. She declines, and he sulks off into the night, only to commit suicide.
    U go gurl. Take that liberation and make it your own.

  3. andrea snow

    Aelita, Queen of Mars. Yakov Protazanov, 1924.

    What struck me as most intriguing about Aelita was the costume design for the Martian elite society. Paired with a moving environments designed by Aleksandra Ekster and Isaak Rabinovich, the entire upper-class realm seemed mechanical. Paired with the environments of the Martian working class, in which death seemed so commonplace that corpses were removed in a factory style.
    Another interesting characteristic of the film was the fascination that Aelita had with physical intimacy. Accompanying the heavily mechanical environment that she lived in was a lack of physical interaction, which I had thought suggested that the hyper-industrialized elites lacked human compassion or humanlike behaviors. This made her appear even more alien – to acknowledge a common behavior in Earthling societies and to envy it implied that she had never experienced it, which would suggest that it was simply not standard or even heard of among her echelon on Mars.
    Her fascination made her more sympathetic, to me, however, it further dehumanized and vilified the other elites of Mars . It also left me to wonder if the lower, working classes had developed customs that consisted of physical displays of affection, or if the issues surrounding their social class’ positioning left them without time for this – they are, after all, mostly depicted in scenes of high-speed work and disposal of their own kind as a product of their labors.
    All of this, in turn, made me consider the state of urban Russian life during the time of this film’s production and premier, which was conveyed in the film through scenes on Earth. Martian society seemed to expose a harsher underside of this reality.

    I had found myself far more intrigued with the architecture and movement of each outfit and how it interacted or contrasted with the set — to a point that I had to remind myself to pay attention to the character interactions and overall plot of the film. The Martian costumes seemed to not only compliment their environments, but also to function within them (such as with Aelita’s favorite maid’s legwear in a particularly sneaky scene), which is a characteristic of Constructivist art philosophy – that art should not be autonomous. So, Protazanov seemed to be saying quite a bit about the behavior of Martian society being directly related to the type of environment in which they existed.

  4. andrea snow

    Grigori Aleksandrov’s Circus, 1936.

    Examining the oppositional lifestyles of characters in the film was interesting – with this being a standard component of a musical, I enjoyed seeing the wealthy Marion Dixon’s income/the cost of her performances criticized in the film.

    More importantly, however, the portrayal of her misery in this environment – her internalized issues with housing the secrecy of her child’s ethnicity – was at first frustrating when examining it out of context, and later acknowledged as silly and unnecessary when paired with the context of the film and the era of its creation. With the exposure of Marion’s child as being the product of an affair with a black man, Marion is horrified and exudes the behavior of a coward. However, with her child embraced by her peers in Russia, she meets relief (and hopefully improves her skills as a mother). This reaction vilifies the United States by exemplifying its racist society and removes race/ethnicity from the concept of “other” to Russian audiences.
    Presumably, this is another aspect of Stalin-era propaganda entertainment, which romanticizes the approach to Russian culture and, in a way, acts as a comfort to the people.

  5. andrea snow

    Daisies — Vera Chytilova, 1966.

    Chytilova’s Daisies follows Jarmila and Jirinka (also seen as Marie I and Marie II), throughout a series of contingencies that at first appear non-sequential, but are eventually established as repetitious. The film opens in a black and white scene of the two of them, sisters, expressing movement in quick, mechanical gestures that are accompanied by unsettling, creaking sound effects and dialogue that expresses the idea of the siblings being perceived as dolls. It then proceeds to utilize color as it digresses into their narrative.

    Chytilova’s film was criticized in its use of characters that were unsympathetic to audiences. This re-imagines the feminine identity of Jirinka and Jarmila in a more masculinized sense: they have abandoned the intuitive responsibilities that are consistently placed upon the shoulders of women and instead utilize male assumption of said responsibility to seek fulfillment and happiness. Successfully, the sisters rarely communicate a moral consideration of their behavior as an unfortunate catalyst to the lives of others. Rather, they seem fond of their decisions to continually take advantage of (often older) males, referring to it as a game or idea throughout the film. The two are frequently portrayed as insincere, irresponsible, and gluttonous. Their public presentation, particularly in the audience of men, is clean, naïve, and childish in behavior, but has ill intentions. In particular, scenes in which Jitka Cerhova wears a scarf that covers her neck and upper chest portray her as virginal, but as soon as she removes the scarf (accompanied by the appearance of Ivana Karbanova), her behavior becomes more enticing.

    All characteristics that can be interpreted as “unladylike” by social standards – and they face few, if any consequences for their actions. One of the later dining scenes of the film features the sisters’ destruction of an exquisite banquet that they destroy first by consumption of food items that seem not to be designated specifically for the two (initially approached carefully within dialogue and assertively, if not grotesquely in physical movement), then by tossing excess at one another in a feverish food fight, and finally by destroying the physical environment in which they are existing by swinging on a massive chandelier above the banquet. This scene is then met with an impulsive, non-fluid cut to the two falling into a body of water, rather than onto the table of food. It is accompanied by text that reads “WAS THERE ANY POSSIBLE WAY TO REMEDY THE DESTRUCTION?,” which designates to the audience that the two have been relieved of their responsibility – at least temporarily.

    The two later return to this scene, dressed in newspapers (perhaps an allusion to exposure through periodicals), and attempt to re-assemble the setting that they have destroyed. Throughout this scene, there is an audio of the two whispering that they will be “good and happy and beautiful again” as they place pieces of broken plates into position but never truly bridge the gaps between each sliver of porcelain.

    With food, elaborate dining, and the banquet as a historically explicit depiction of power and excess juxtaposed with the Stalinist pattern purges of the time, this waste of excess and abandonment of gendered responsibility in the film act as a characterization of government appearances vs. government behavior; however, the film contributes largely to the deconstruction of male behavior and positions it instead in the body of a female. Despite Chytilova’s reluctance to embrace Feminism as the film’s philosophy, the subtext points heavily to power in relation to sex by defying normative gendered portrayals and instead utilizing “unsympathetic” behavior in women.

    From notes:
    – Internal chaos of apartment vs. external composure of characters.
    – Apples, dancing, tearing a blanket open to find a floral comforter within.
    – Cutting of phallic food items with scissors – sausage, pickles in juxtaposition with use/waste of milk and eggs, food items associated with fertility and femininity.
    – Ritualistic behaviors paired with somewhat tribal music, submerging a paper cutout of a male form into a milk bath.

  6. andrea snow

    Stalker, Andrei Tarkovsky. 1979.

    Throughout the film, the Stalker is depicted embracing natural elements as a return to safety and contemplation. In example: in earlier scenes, as the trio are finding their route to The Zone, the Stalker recedes into foliage to escape from the gunfire of authority; later, once they have reached The Zone, the Stalker is shown as respectful and wary of natural surroundings (and intimately intertwined – he is referred to as having a “date with The Zone” by his companions). Eventually, he assumes a fetal position in a shallow body of water. During this sequence, he enters a dreamlike state and is approached by a black hound. While I had initially received this as a bad omen (thinking in part of the “Mauthe Dhoog” of Scottish folklore), the dog does seem to maintain companionship with the Stalker, who has acquired an affinity for it as a manifestation of The Zone.

    Vivid color is used to signify the otherworldliness of The Zone, while harsh, grungy, industrial black-and-white (and occasionally sepia toned) scenes are used in scenes occurring outside of The Zone. Meanwhile, foggy elements construct an aura of transcendence between the two, creating a hazy and frightening feeling of the unknown for those travelling between them. Shrapnel and other remnants of military influences and industrial architecture are littered throughout The Zone, but they are merely that: litter that has become part of the scenery, embraced by its growth and worthless without the intervention of mankind.

    The audio of the film is rather enchanting, as the use of environmental sound effects communicate both fear and hesitation within the characters as well as the assumed activity of the ominous settings in which they are venturing.

    Stalker heavily reminded me of the embrace of the natural that we examined in other films this semester, as well as the overarching theme of a romanticized beauty within an intrinsic enchantment (also seen in Twilight of a Woman’s Soul and Burnt by The Sun). However, I feel that Tarkovsky approached the natural world with a more supernatural element, as Stalker perpetuates the idea that The Zone is a product of a humanly unknowable, inexplicable event. The idea that The Zone can grant a human’s ultimate wish – and that, as a result, the human comes to terms with its own narcissism and lack of sentiment – paired with the Stalker’s intimacy and understanding of its behavior presents it as not just a place, but a force. With its ability to make tangible the deepest desires of its visitors, the room within The Zone acts as a threat to the order of society – perhaps one of the reasons why Tarkovsky was so poorly received by critics.

  7. andrea snow

    Repentance, Tengiz Abuladze. 1984.

    Admittedly, this movie was rather difficult for me to follow. I had felt rather frustrated by the repetition of scenes despite that they were at least semi-intentional. The actor chosen to play the central antagonist, Varlam, also made me very uncomfortable – which was probably the intention of casting that particular actor for the role. Scenes explicitly depicted him with facial hair similar to Adolf Hitler’s, and even those that showed him as a compassionate individual were quickly followed with scenes that dissected his true intentions. What left the largest impression, however, was the use of flashbacks and dream sequences with the characters Tornike and Keti.
    Tornike, Varlam’s grandson, goes into a state of catatonic depression after learning of his grandfather’s actions. This, I believe, is a narrative device used to represent Russian/Georgian youth’s struggle with their cultural identity upon learning the past from which they come. During each play of the scene during which he is being diagnosed with depression, the close-up shots of Tornike deem him unresponsive and are followed with dream sequences. Several of these sequences consist of his grandmother dancing before Varlam’s corpse, which reanimates to distinguish that he is not dead; rather, he is resting for the time being. These scenes are indicative of Tornike’s internalized concerns and interpretations of Keti’s statements about Varlam living on beyond the grave. Eventually, Tornike enters another dream sequence in which he is confronted with his grandfather’s insanity, depicted in an enclosed setting and a delirious Varlam.
    Abel, Varlam’s son and father of Tornike, is shown tossing Varlam’s corpse off of a cliff outside of the city. This scene alludes to the idea that the previous ideologies – presumably, criticisms of the Stalinist era – have resulted in the damaging and death of youth; that it is the responsibility of the previous generation to acknowledge the horrors of his reign and to discard them on behalf of the future of society.
    In the end, a character appears as a manifestation of a different kind of flashback: an elderly woman, perhaps on a pilgrimage, knocks on Keti’s door and asks if the particular road that they are on leads to a church. Keti, noticeably exhausted and distraught, replies that no, it is Varlam road, and the elderly woman expresses disappointment. This scene solidifies that Varlam, in fact, did not preserve an old church that was of concern when he first acquired mayoral status (and sparked the disappearance of Keti’s father) and eliminates any question of whether or not he was a sympathetic character.

    From notes:
    – All of Keti’s father’s artwork is in Abel’s… basement-type room, surrounding a demonic depiction of Varlam.
    – What’s up with the fish peeling? Does this signify some kind of detriment to society on Varlam’s behalf? Is this religious? There is a lot of religious stuff going on.
    – VARLAM IS THE DEVIL
    – STALIN IS THE DEVIL

  8. andrea snow

    Time of the Gypsies. Emir Kusturica, 1988.

    Perhan is first innocent, hard-working, and concerned for the well-being of his family: he burns lime, he helps his grandmother (who rewards him with the most sympathetic character in the film – a turkey), he cares for Danira. Perhan’s greatest desire is to be able to marry Azra (who is played by a comparably very white actress, and her paleness is pointed out by her mother, who says she is “worth billions” – suggesting that her demure appearance is indicative of her “pureness” and value within this culture). The latter, which seems to be the exposition of Perhan’s life at this point in the film, is made impossible by her mother. Later, when he is in the hands of Ahmed, Perhan begins to embrace his marriage to Azra as being more tangible, but simultaneously, he loses his innocent charisma because he must submit to Ahmed’s methods of acquiring money. As Perhan begins to embrace a Scarface-like appearance and “swagger,” the façade of hope for his future
    Perhaps the characters in the film are used to signify loss and re-embrace. For example, when Merdzan slaughters Perhan’s turkey and cooks it, it suggests that Merdzan is jealous of Perhan’s potential and wishes to devour it for himself, and Perhan is faced with a loss of reward and companionship for his moral good-heartedness. As he is later reunited with the turkey in an environmentally lush dream sequence (which also includes his beloved Azra), his desire to again embrace this aspect of his former self for comfort and stability. This may also be seen with Danira’s disappearance, after which Perhan is forced to engage in corrupt activity. He is only reunited with her when he realizes that his situation is one of deception and he spends several years searching for both vengeance and solace.
    I had assumed that the film would portray and/or criticize the cycle of poverty and detriment within Romani culture, perhaps as a commentary on the oppression that the people have faced, and perhaps as a commentary on the stagnation and tragedy of this particular society as a product of their marginalization. It’s incredibly painful to watch.

  9. andrea snow

    Window to Paris. Yuri Mamin,1993.

    The window of the film acts as a transport between two extremes: on one side is an apartment in Petersburg, which houses a multitude of tenants; on the other, the rooftops of Paris, just across from the apartment of an artist named Nicole (the inverse of Nikolai: she is a successful female, while he is a struggling male. This indicates the social and economic climates of both settings, as in one, the marginalized woman is successful and in the other, a male is struggling to be the standard).
    The film certainly romanticizes the options presented by capitalism in Paris: the vibrant colors of food and environment, as well as Russian characters’ reactions to them (both excitement and consumptive greed) examine the variety and availability of goods, but does avoid the process of acquisition of them. This may also be seen with Nicole’s venture into Petersburg in Part II, where rather than being greeted with products and excess, she is met with confusion and trickery. Having existed in an environment that is based on the availability of goods and their purchase, she is oblivious to the norms and standards of Petersburg, rendering her helpless and vulnerable (this is further demonstrated by language barriers and her revealing attire, which is eventually stolen from her).
    The film also communicates the idea of implementing a greater appreciation and practice of the arts into Russia. While Nikolai, a music teacher, is at first marginalized by the school in which he works, his mentorship is also what the school resorts to in order to communicate with the revolting children (in response to the restructuring of the business-oriented school that they attend). The kids, who are promised a trip somewhere that they had never been, agree to do as Nikolai says, and in turn, he brings them with him to Paris. Upon their experiences there, the children decide that they wish to stay in France and fully indulge in its cornucopia of the arts – however, Nikolai attempts to persuade them otherwise, and states that while their country is poor and devastated, they have the ability to improve it. From this, Nikolai has implied that youth may apply their cultured experiences in Paris to reinvent and/or change the future of Russia.
    The aforementioned scenes work to express that the future of Russian society is dependent on the proper guidance of its youth, as well as what its youth desires – progressiveness with the aid of an enlightened, but balanced mentor (this balance is set when Nikolai acquires, and abandons, a job in Paris that would require him to play Mozart without trousers – perhaps an implication of regulation between art and humility?).

  10. andrea snow

    Sweet Emma, Dear Bobe. Istvan Sabo, 1992.

    The film directly mirrors the struggles of its characters in the workplace with struggle in their personal lives. While Emma pursues an affair with the head of the school that the two work for, it is tarnished with dissatisfaction – he is preoccupied with a variety of subjects, as indicated by the state of his office desk – particularly when Emma is addressing him and he takes a phone call. The tension presented by his grabbing of her arm as she proceeds to leave the room suggests his interests in her, but, unfortunately, the lack of room in his workplace also indicates the lack of room he has in his life for Emma. Sex, for Emma, seems problematic all throughout the film, to be honest, as her close proximity to Bobe results in her feeling alienated in her own home, and both of the female protagonists appear alienated in the workplace as Russian courses are removed for the embrace of English courses.

    Scenes of Emma and Bobe engaging with one another in the city are first begun with energetic and excited music, which seems to reflect their interests in their environment; however, Emma is repetitively met with disappointment, and both appear to be discomforted by the Romani of the city. Shortly after this, Emma retreats to the dwelling of someone dear to her, where she relays her thoughts. The walls of this home speak volumes of character roles, with Emma’s half of the shot crowded with photographs and a stuffed bookshelf, and the opposing character in the scene is paralleled with a nearly empty half of the background (perhaps implying her receptiveness or, perhaps, her open-mindedness – willingness or ability to adapt to new environments [i.e.: post-communism], or to remain steadfast in spite of them).

    Admittedly, I had to track this film down (in pieces) on the internet and had to watch it primarily in Hungarian, which was challenging (my family is Hungarian but honestly, I only know a handful of phrases). I had to deduce a lot of the story from body language and environmental factors, along with reading information about it online, which was an interesting way of interpreting a film, but leaves me with almost nothing to talk about concerning dialogue.

    I did find myself far more attached to Emma than to Bobe, although Bobe did seem to engage in a much more material form of tragedy. The opening shot of a nude Emma tumbling down a sand dune and followed by her reconstruction of a photograph, however, was unsettling and memorable, which immediately made me more sympathetic toward her character.

  11. andrea snow

    Katyn. Andrej Wajda, 2007.

    This film maintained a sense of ominous foreboding in every scene, and particularly within living quarters. The desaturated colors, the stoic environments, and subtle score all add up to create an audience’s response of dwindling satisfaction, with the home being invaded by desperation and solitude rather than the comfort and warmth that is so typically associated with living environments. Even scenes that offered a bit of false hope were ultimately resolved with unnerving feelings of the unpleasant and the unconfirmed.
    I believe it to have been intentional for the final scene of the film to be as unnerving and effective as it was, as a method of actualizing the brutality of the aforementioned unconfirmed. Here, the Polish POWs are exposed as individuals in life, with each respective execution being accompanied with a line from what I believe was a prayer… The violence of these executions is neither understated nor overstated; it is a clear, and, dare I say, classy use of blood and death. There is no over-dramatization of each death, but rather, a performance that renders retrospective scenes as mourning.
    This final series of executions harshly contrasts a previous scene in which Polish POWs are shown captive and singing in unison, as if attempting to stir feelings of the sanguine in spite of the desperation of their position. Here, they are united and operate as a mass; they are again united in their deaths, with the disposal of corpses in mass graves. There is emphasis on individual characters that the audience can identify and relate back to the stories of the families intertwined throughout the movie – in particular, Andrej, dressed in Jerzy’s sweater, stands out among the mass of corpses functions as a humanizing mechanism among them. The twitching of a hand holding a rosary, as well as the cease of twitching, as a bulldozer covers the bodies in earth is particularly unnerving as it suggests that the individual is still somewhat alive, if only for a brief moment.
    Jerzy’s suicide was also rather discomforting, as the disposal of his body was so immediate that it seemed as if his death was an allegory for Poland’s struggle with the past and their historical identity (something that I consider a lot while watching films in this class). Incapable of adjusting to the lie being perpetuated by his superiors, a drunken Jerzy attempts to expose the truth. His behavior is not well-received, and he wanders outside of his environment to dispose of himself in an open setting – as if to personify the detriment of the paralleled “truths” being perpetuated.
    This has been my favorite film to watch this semester, in spite of (or perhaps because of) its effectiveness at making an audience’s heart sink.

    I found it particularly heartbreaking to read Wajda on his own film: “Katyn is a special film in my long career as a director. I never thought I would live to see the fall of the USSR, or that free Poland would provide me with the opportunity to portray on the screen the crime and lies of Katyn.
    While Stalin’s crime deprived my father of life, my mother was touched by the lies and the hoping in vain for the return of her husband.”

  12. andrea snow

    Mongol: The Rise of Genghis Khan. Sergei Bodrov, 2007.

    The film paints the image of a noble among barbarians and centers much of the story on romance. As much as I typically hate seeing romance as a plot device, I found that I enjoyed Bodrov’s use of it here and found it rather successful. While mirroring the concept of unifying a chaotic population, the film also emphasized the importance of the role of strengthened women within a society. Whether or not this film is intended to be a historically accurate account, I am not sure, but enforcing that a female character – and an incredibly competent one, at that — as being pivotal within the unification of an empire signifies that women have a position within society beyond being a vessel of birth.

    The monk’s journey, too, seemed of great significance: he is introduced in the slave market, accompanying a Tangut Garrison Chief, who intends to acquire Temujin. This environment appears rather desolate and dry, suggesting that Temujin is part of an unfortunate setting. Later, the monk again appears before the imprisoned Temujin, removed from desolation but still caged, and stands upon a bridge to barter with him. Here, he is building a relationship with the future khan in an attempt at maintaining a spiritualist presence. When Temujin agrees to save the monk’s monastery so long as he delivers the white raven’s wishbone to Borte, the monk sets out across desert badlands. He comes about his death on this journey, but Borte still comes across his corpse and ultimately the wishbone, which indicates to her that Temujin lives and there is hope for her future and that of her child (so hope rides on the back of morality/spirituality/something ancient and transcendent and stuff).

    At first foreshadowing the fall of the Tangut state while conversing with the Garrison Chief over the purchase of an enslaved Temujin, his spiritual insight is designated as important but ignored. Later, after bargaining with the imprisoned Temujin, the monk acts as a messenger of hope between Borte and the future khan, and secures the safety of his monastery – this signifies the importance of a moral denominator within the future of the Mongol empire and, in turn, reflects the importance of maintaining an aspect of the past to preserve the future of Russia.

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