Solovky Power (1990)
1h 33min · Documentary · 14 February 1990
"Solovky Power" is a documentary about the first Soviet labor camp created by Lenin in 1923. Solovky was established in a complex of ancient monasteries on a cluster of islands off the remote White Sea coast. Though its name derives from the Russian word for nightingale, the title of the film echoes the term 'Soviet power', stressing the fact that from the very beginning the Soviet penal colonies were a world unto themselves. There, under the pretext of re-educating class enemies, an ever expanding, self-devouring army of policemen, sadistic jailers and common-law criminals had absolute power over prisoners, many of whom were the Russian elite of their day - farmers and workers, socialists, anarchists, scientists and writers. Among them, for instance, was Pavel Florensky, a religious philosopher who was also one of the greatest scientific minds of Russia. "Solovky Power" was filmed among the ruins of the Solovky Monasteries. It hauntingly mixes interviews with the camp's few survivors and historic materials which include propaganda footage about Maxim Gorky's visit to Solovky in 1928. Judging by this powerful film, after 70 years of dictatorship, glasnost may well be a genuine moment of truth for the Russian people, and one that may prove cathartic.
- Written by
Olga Carlisle - San Francisco International Film Festival