The Lord Eagle directed by Eduard Nowikow is the second film in recent times – after Milko Lazarov’s Ága – about very similar, if not twin, themes. Both films portray the lives of older Yakutian marriages, experiencing tragic events from the past, awakened again by emerging signs from old beliefs, animist and shamanic order.
In both films we will get a decent dose of anthropological observation of everyday life, work, meals and habits together. All around whitewashed Yakutia (there are geographical – north-south – and temporal – the 1930s and the present – differences), one can find tenderness with well-groomed space, interior design, tools and props.
Fortunately, despite the obvious similarities, the director manages to take his own course and go beyond the ordinary copy. Where Ága turns towards a lonely search for a lost part of life, transforming from anthropological cinema to picturesque, metaphysical road movie, The Lord Eagle bets on the long duration of the old world, which, although inevitably condemned to wither, clings to life and hope, growing hard into the ground like an old larch standing in front of old people’s home.
The presence of an eagle, king of birds, though at first read as a bad omen, later becomes part of the life of two heroes and a vivid image of the past shrinking under the influence of the first wave of modernization of 1930s Bolshevik Russia. This old world seemed to have condensed into the living space of the elderly, and the eagle – a symbol previously arousing fear – now becomes a companion, or maybe even an ally in stubborn, silent persistence and facing the passage of time.
Unconventional shots of dreams and simple poetic depiction of the relationship of a man with a Tsar-bird who “fell from the sky” make up a modest and satisfying cinema, which does not need a long analysis. Novikov’s film will end with a surprise similar to this at the beginning of a movie – a reflection of the new order and social relations. The eagle was able to forgive people once, but when the thread of understanding and tools of communication with nature will disappear, will harmony between the two worlds still be possible?