"Set during one of the most overlooked and tragic periods of the 20th century, Bitter Harvest is a powerful story of love, honor, rebellion ad survival as seen through the eyes of two young lovers caught in the ravages of Joseph Stalin's policies of intolerance against Ukraine in the 1930s. As Stalin advances the ambitions of the burgeoning Soviet Union, a young artist named Yuri (Max Irons) overcomes famine, imprisonment, and torture to save his childhood love, Natalka (Samantha Barks), from the Holodomor. Against this explosive backdrop, Yuri escapes from a Soviet prison and joins the anti-Bolshevik resistance movement as he battles to reunite with Natalka and continue the fight for a free Ukraine." That is the official description for Bitter Harvest, now available on DVD and Digital from Lionsgate, which has provided NewTechReview with a NFR copy for review.
I have to admit that before I watched Bitter Harvest, I had never heard of the Holodomor. Of course, I've read plenty of material and watched a number of films that have covered the Holocaust, but the Holodomor was a complete mystery to me. Now to be honest, I'm not really a history buff, so I basically know about the material I learned in school and what I've read since then, so maybe more people are more informed about this topic than I. However, from the research I've now done, it seems the Holodomor hasn't gotten nearly as much coverage as the Holocaust, which is a shame because people should definitely know that this was a part of history.
Bitter Harvest focuses on the fictional love story between Yuri and Natalka, a young Ukrainian couple whose lives are turned upside down because of the horrors of the Holodomor. Unfortunately, the way the film is presented makes it difficult to fully appreciate the backstory... the true events that occurred during that time. We're presented with with a disjointed sequence of cliched scenes, which focuses more on the love story rather than the topic it is trying to bring to light.
As a DVD release, there's not much to say about the technical aspects. However, I should note that the movie was filmmed on location in Ukraine, which does help to improve the overall viewing experience. In regards to special features, there is only one entitled A Look at Bitter Harvest Photo Gallery, which presents a slideshow of stills from the film.
It's sad and unfortunate that this type of occurrence was a part of world history, and it's even more disappointing that the topic isn't more well-known. While the film doesn't really do the topic justice, I would still recommend watching it if only to be more informed and to help the possibility of there being future coverage of this important historical event.
For more information, visit:
* Amazon: http://amzn.to/2t9hz7x
* Website: lionsgate.com