Bitter Harvest


Drama / Romance / War

IMDb Rating 6 10 3,184


Downloaded 25,957 times
October 16, 2019


Barry Pepper as Jonnie Goodboy Tyler
Max Irons as Yuri
Samantha Barks as Natalka
Terence Stamp as The Devil
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
882.35 MB
23.976 fps
103 min
P/S N/A / N/A
1.66 GB
23.976 fps
103 min
P/S N/A / N/A

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by CineMuseFilms 6 / 10 / 10

An important episode in history obscured by a mediocre love story.

Everyone knows about the Holocaust but few have even heard the word Holodomor. It means 'death by starvation' and it refers to the Ukrainian mass famine deliberately engineered by Joseph Stalin during 1932-33. Scholars label it as genocide and estimate between 7 and 10 million deaths were directly linked to Stalin's policy of de-populating the Ukraine. More accurate numbers are not available because long-standing Russian secrecy has only recently eased enough for the story to be told. The film Bitter Harvest (2017) is the first feature movie to tell this story using a dramatized romance that attempts to humanise a story of inhumanity. Set in 1930s Ukraine, the story commences with two young childhood sweethearts in the film's only joyful moments. It quickly moves to Joseph Stalin ordering a mass collectivisation program to confiscate the Ukrainian harvests so he could feed his armies. Most chillingly, he commandeers the grain seeds so famine was not only unavoidable but planned. As their village faces an impending catastrophe, the now grown-up young lovers, aspiring artist Yuri (Max Irons) and his betrothed Natalka (Samantha Barks), must separate as he goes off to join the anti-Bolsheviks in Kiev while she remains to care for her ailing mother. Yuri believes in the power of painting and music to tell the world what is happening but his art teachers in Kiev force him to use art for revolutionary propaganda. As Stalin's forces deplete Ukraine's rural food-stock, villagers are accused of hiding grain and seed and failing to support the revolution. Wherever food is not surrendered there are mass executions in front of mass graves, while others starve to death in their homes and on the streets. Yuri is captured and tortured, but escapes to be re-united with Natalka and they eventually flee to Poland. The detail of this love story pales against the bigger narrative of Stalinist atrocities. While it is a conventional cinematic device to convey a big story through a small lens, the relationship between the two is critical. The two stories of this film are out of balance and unevenly directed. The attempt to create an epic love story diminishes the magnitude of the Holodomor and almost glosses over the scale of its horrors. While the cinematography is excellent throughout, the acting is wooden, melodramatic, and lacks authenticity. The clean-faced good looks of the dual protagonists form a jarring contrast with the caricatures of the Stalinist scar-faced ogres who are depicted as pure evil. Turning archival images of starved bodies on streets and decimated corpses in mass graves into background props to tell a love story feels disrespectful. The film's lack of nuance and simplicity of narrative is a lost opportunity for insight into this dark episode of history. It is difficult to be critical of a film that deals with such important subject matter. In terms of the need for the bigger story to be told, this film should be rated highly but as cinema it is seriously flawed. On balance, the one and three-quarter hour investment to see this film is worth the time as it is the only available narrative film of life at the time of the Holodomor. As such, it is educational cinema that helps us understand contemporary Russian-Ukraine politics. However, the shelf-life of this film will be determined only by the time it takes for a better film to be produced.

Reviewed by islandon 6 / 10 / 10

Dark Page in the Human Experience

The Holodomor, or Ukrainian Holocaust is a dark topic. It is a short testimony to the power of the human spirit to survive even the most cruel and vile regimes in History. Even with the murder of 10 million Ukrainians by starvation in only 2 years, millions more survived. The bonds of love, family and heritage were what saved this great people from annihilation. Like the Holocaust in Germany only a decade later, we must learn and NEVER FORGET!!!

Reviewed by dbaldwin-52621 6 / 10 / 10

I wanted to like it

The acting is good, the chemistry between the leads is effective, the evocations of village life are beautiful, the panoramic views of Ukraine are splendid, the music is beautiful, the subject is important—and yet, Bitter Harvest does heart-breaking disservice to those who perished in the Holodomor. Trying to cover political history from the death of the Tsar announced in one scene (evidently in 1918) to the famine itself (1932-3), while the romantic drama seems to take only a couple of years, blurs and trivializes history. The Hollywood hijinks and impossible escapes caricature the real conditions from which there was no escape. A few peasants standing in the fog with make-up circles under their eyes belittles the piles of skeletal corpses and bloated bodies of children that even one photograph of the real Holodomor bears witness to. Showing a fleeting screen shot of an article from the New York Times about the famine without clarifying that it was written by the notorious Soviet falsifier Walter Duranty (whom Malcolm Muggeridge called "the most dishonest journalist I have ever encountered in my fifty years of journalism") – Duranty, a famine-denier who stands as one of the reasons that the Holodomor is not better known in the west – simply sickens. For all the money spent on special effects (well done, by the way), the scope of the Holodomor is utterly lost. And what would it have cost to hire a decent screenwriter who could have reined in a plot that tries to do too much, and who instead could have focused on some serious moral dilemma that those impossible conditions spawned on the level of the individual? Yes, see the movie – there is worse Hollywood silliness out there, and the good things listed at the top are worth seeing. But then, for history's sake, go out and BUY A COPY of Harvest of Sorrow, by Robert Conquest (who passed away recently, alas). It is the definitive history of the Holodomor, and – in this time of 'alternative facts'—the facts needs to be set straight. Soviet-Collectivization-Terror-Famine/dp/0195051807

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