June 1946: Stalin launches a vast propaganda campaign aimed at Russian emigrants living in the West, offering them an amnesty, a Soviet passport and the chance to participate in the post-war reconstruction of the USSR. Alexei Golovine, an emigrant living in France responds to this appeal along with many others. He decides to return to the mother country which he has missed so deeply, taking his young French wife, Marie, and his son Serioja, with him. On arrival in Odessa, Stalin's welcome is not what they had expected. Alexei is paraded as an example, a model "returnee". This is the price Alexei has to pay to save Marie and Serioja. Despite the strength of their love, Alexei and Marie gradually grow apart. Alexei conforms, accepts, waits whereas Marie refuses, bridles and has one sole aim: to leave again, to regain her freedom... But all her attempts are doomed to failure, blocked by Alexei. When a leading French theatre group, led by the famous actress, Gabrielle Develay, arrives in Kiev on tour, Marie knows that this is her chance to alert French officials to her plight. Marie befriends Sacha, an exceptional swimmer, who as a result of a daring, heroic act, risking his life, finally manages to get away from the Soviet Union. But Marie pays dearly for Sacha's exploit. Despite Alexei's attempts to save her, she is sent to a gulag. Some years later, after Stalin's death, Alexei manages to get Marie rehabilitated. Marie's ordeal has marked her deeply. It seems that she no longer hopes for anything, that merely being alive is enough for her. He intends to repay his debt to Marie by helping her to regain her freedom at long last. The opportunity presents itself one day and Alexei grabs it with both hands.
Director: Regis Wargnier
Writer: Regis Wargnier, Serguei Bodrov, Roustam Ibraguimbek and Louis Gardel
Producer: Yves Marmion
Cast: Sandrine Bonnaire, Serguei Bodrov Jr, Oleg Menshikov, Ruben Tapiero and Catherine Deneuve
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