The Cuckoo (film)

This article is about the 2002 Russian film. For the 2010 British film, see Cuckoo (2009 film).
The Cuckoo

Film poster
Directed by Aleksandr Rogozhkin
Produced by Sergei Selianov
Written by Aleksandr Rogozhkin
Starring Anni-Kristiina Juuso
Ville Haapasalo
Viktor Bychkov
Music by Dmitry Pavlov
Cinematography Andrey Zhegalov
Distributed by STV (Russian: СТВ)
Release dates
Running time
105 minutes
Country Russia
Language Finnish

The Cuckoo (Russian: «Кукушка», translit. Kukushka) is a 2002 Russian historical comedy drama film directed by Aleksandr Rogozhkin. It takes place during World War II from the perspective of opposing Soviet and Finnish soldiers stranded at a Sami woman's farmhouse. "Kukushka" was the nickname given by Soviet soldiers to Finnish cuckoo snipers, who ambushed their targets from a purpose-built tree-branch-nest. Thus the title refers to both Veikko (the sniper) and Anni (whose name means cuckoo in Sami, and who is a lone woman living in the forest, much like a cuckoo).


September 1944. Several days before Finland, a co-belligerent of Nazi Germany, pulls out of the Continuation War against the Soviet Union, Veikko (Ville Haapasalo), a Finnish soldier, is turned in by his Finnish and German compatriots for being a pacifist and, in their eyes, a would-be deserter. As a punishment, the young man is placed in shackles, chained to a rock outcrop in a remote Lapland forest, left with nothing but a few supplies, rifle and ammunition - effectively made a forced Kamikaze kukushka sniper. To ensure his willingness to fight, they dress him in the uniform of the Waffen-SS, as Soviet soldiers felt little mercy towards SS men. Days pass, and after several failed attempts, Veikko succeeds in freeing himself and heads for safety, shackles still attached.

Meanwhile, Ivan (Viktor Bychkov), a Captain in the Red Army accused of anti-Soviet correspondence, is arrested by the NKVD secret police. En route to his court martial, Soviet planes accidentally bomb the vehicle carrying the disgraced captain, killing the driver and Ivan's guard. Veikko, at this stage still chained to the rock, witnesses the bombing through his riflescope.

Not far away is the farm of Anni (Anni-Kristiina Juuso), a Sami reindeer farmer whose husband was taken away together with their whole reindeer herd by Germans four years earlier, never to return. Hungry and alone, the young and resourceful widow locates the bodies of Ivan and his captors while foraging for food. As she begins to bury the dead, Anni discovers that Ivan is still alive, but seriously hurt. She carries him to her wooden hut and nurses him back to health. Meanwhile, Veikko, in search of tools to remove his shackles, stumbles upon Anni’s farm. Thus World War II creates the unlikeliest of bonds (between three different people, from three different cultures, speaking three different languages).

Comic, and sometimes tragic, misunderstandings soon arise, resulting in a passionate and very human three-way relationship. Unable to communicate with the others and unaware that the war between the USSR and Finland is over, Ivan is convinced that Veikko is a German soldier gone astray. To Ivan, the German uniform the Finnish soldier was forced to wear is further proof. Ivan even refuses to tell his name to Veikko, answering only "Poshyol tyi!" («Пошёл ты!» "Get lost!") — as a result, the two others think his name is "Psholty". Veikko is unaware of Ivan’s hatred and just wants to cut off his shackles, return home and put the war behind him, but opts to stay on Anni's farm to avoid falling into enemy hands. The earthly and sensuous Anni, who has not been with a man in four years, could not be more delighted with her good fortune, language barrier be damned.

For Anni, Veikko and Ivan are not enemies, but just men. An uncommon and touching bond develops, as the three unlikely souls begin a domestic routine of hunting and gathering in preparation for the long Lapp winter. The two men do what they can to contribute to Anni’s well-being. Veikko builds a sauna and Ivan picks mushrooms. Veikko, Ivan and Anni communicate only with gestures. Starved for love and physical touch, Anni seduces young, strapping Veikko, much to the chagrin of jealous middle-aged Ivan.

Not long afterwards a Soviet biplane crashes in the forest near Anni’s hut, spilling leaflets announcing an armistice between Finland and USSR. Veikko thinks he can finally return home safely, but Ivan – who does not understand Finnish – manages to find a pistol in the wreckage and, still convinced that Veikko is a Fascist, shoots him when he seemingly tries to attack Ivan, really only trying to destroy his rifle. When Ivan reads the last line of the leaflet the plane was dropping (written in Russian and instructing Soviet soldiers to allow the Finns to return home unharmed), he realizes that the war is over. Ivan is torn with remorse and, stumbling, carries Veikko back to the farm.

The nurturing Anni brings Veikko back from the brink of death through a series of ancient Sami magic rituals. With Veikko bedridden, Anni’s needs for companionship and sexual longing draw Ivan into her bed. Gradually, Ivan and Veikko, no longer separated by ethnic hate nor rivalry for the affections of Anni, become friends. As winter arrives and the two men head back to their respective homes in opposite directions, Anni is left behind with memories –and much more– of her two unlikely comrades in war and peace. In the final scene she narrates the story to her children, whom she named after their fathers: Veikko and Psholty.




June 2004 - Russian Federation National Award in the Art and Literature Area was awarded to the crew of the film; to the director and the author of the screenplay Aleksandr Rogozhkin, producer Segei Selianov, main cast Anni-Kristiina Juuso, Ville Haapasalo, Viktor Bychkov, director of photography Andrey Zhegalov, director of the film art Vladimir I. Svetozarov, composer Dmitriy Pavlov, sound engineers Anatoliy Gudkov and Sergei Sokolov.


This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 10/25/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.