The Last Relic
In the passing busses and trams, people look out of the windows in disbelief. The reverse shot shows a crowd of protesters. Two dozen people perhaps, some holding signs, one shouting “Putin behind bars!” It is a symbolic image of the pathetic state of the Russian opposition. The year is 2017, the war of aggression against Ukraine is still to come. Over a period of several years, “The Last Relic” portrays people from different opposition groups: a student from the Marxist-Leninist “Left Block,” a teacher with sympathies for Navalny; a digger driver demands the redistribution of resources. These activists lack support, but not courage. One of them has just been released from prison and survived a hunger strike. The others must expect to be prosecuted at any moment.
The setting of this film is the Ural metropolis of Yekaterinburg. The bulk of the population, an insert announces, dreams of a “return to imperial glory.” Estonian director Marianna Kaat, born in 1965, has spent a considerable part of her life in the Soviet empire. She shows the majority society as a uniform crowd at military parades, contrasting it with the individuals of the opposition. Few films offer such insights into the latter’s continuing precarious situation.