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This moving drama of people caught in the turmoil of political power-play paints a shattering picture of Estonia in the twentieth century. The tale traces two phases of oppression: the period of German occupation during the Second World War, and the 1960ís under Soviet governance. One of the bloodiest wars in history is followed by a nightmarish peace.
When the Doves Disappeared is the tale of a doomed marriage, of deceit and broken spirits, in which the characters reinvent their past in order to salvage their future. Living in a paranoid reality as one totalitarian government gives way to the next, ordinary people are forced to make choices between impossible alternatives. The legacy of lies is long and tenacious. When the Doves Disappeared is Sofi Oksanenís own stage version of her best-selling novel of the same name. It is the third in her series entitled Quartet, which focuses on Estoniaís recent history. The two previous novels in the series are Stalinís Cows (2003) and Purge (2007).
Late 1930ís, Tallinn, Republic of Estonia. Late evening/night. Wedding music, an accordion playing. The Estonian flag is flying. Roland and Rosalie are among the guests celebrating Juudit and Edgarís wedding. Juudit and Edgar have retired to their bedroom, and are lying in bed on their wedding night. Juuditís wedding dress is on a hanger, over the cupboard door. Outside, Roland spins Rosalie into a dance.
Itíll be our turn next.
Thatís right! We can have Edgar take our wedding photograph in his new studio!
Cousin Edgar certainly got lucky. Thatís some wedding gift, and from his in-laws! (spinning Rosalie away from the crowd) But never mind the pictures, I canít wait to see you in a wedding dress. (running his hands over her hips)
Rosalie (removing his hands)
Roland, hold your horses now! (she runs off laughing)
Roland (running after her)
I canít! Youíre enough to drive a fellow wild!
In the bedroom, Juudit has started crying. Edgar springs out of the bed and begins dressing hurriedly.
What have I done wrong?
She jumps up out of bed, goes after Edgar. She forces his hand onto her breast, Edgar pulls it away. He tries to pull his jacket on, pulls away from Juudit.
Answer me. What have I done wrong?
Edgar heads for the door.
No, donít go! Iíll do anything, anything you want! You canít just go, this is our wedding night! (ripping off her nightdress) You used to say you couldnít wait for tonight, so what is it!
Edgar walks out and closes the door behind him. Juudit throws a shoe at the door.
Whatís wrong with me!
Edgar crosses the yard to the water pump and frenziedly starts pumping water and washing. Roland enters running, looking for Rosalie. Seeing Edgar, he stops.
Whatís the matter?
IÖ (startled, he stops washing) SheÖ
Edgar, for some women, the first time can be scary. Just give Juudit time. Sheíll be all right.
Roland, come and get me!
Roland chases after her.
SCREEN: propaganda footage and newsreel of the Soviet occupation in 1940-41, followed by the early stages of Nazi Germanyís invasion, images of people rejoicing and banners Ė pictures of old Soviet leaders being eagerly destroyed and replaced by ones of Hitler, Liberator-posters.
1941, village of Taara, Estland, Ostland. Juudit is visiting Rosalie, gathering jars of lard into a ply-wood case and a box, placing a bottle of moonshine into a belt designed to be concealed under her clothing.
Juudit (about the bottle)
You canít see anything, can you?
No. Was the travel permit expensive?
Donít even ask. Listen letís leave out a couple of jars of chicken-meat. The box looks so full Iíll never get it past the checkpoint. And maybe take out the chocolate too. The bottle will have to do.
Translated from Finnish into English by Eva Buchwald
Otava Group Agency (OGA)