26 March 2021
On the Web
13 November 2021
Cement is one of the greatest love stories of world drama. Gleb Chumalov is a returning Red Army soldier who comes home after years of civil war following the October Revolution. He ends up in a cement factory, stripped bare, abandoned and non-operational despite the high-flying revolutionary tenets. His homecoming is also a return to his wife and their child. But she does not return his kisses and hugs. She is in love elsewhere: her lover now is a Revolution, her body and heart are impenetrable, and their child soon dies of hunger. Gleb’s purpose from this point on is twofold: to convince the new government that people/workers can restart a factory and resume producing even more and better than before, and to win back his wife’s heart.
Cement is a love letter to a certain breaking point, to a cut between the existing and the radically new, depicted with brutally raw force and gloom, in a manner of writing which relentlessly testifies to the belief that all this is and must be, regardless of horrific carrying out, and that our future, the future of humanity, is precisely this breaking point or … there will be no future whatsoever.
The entire world is squeezed into a relationship between Odysseus – Gleb Chumalov, returning home after the civil war as a winner to his Penelope – Dasha Chumalova. Instead of an empty factory where grass grows from concrete bricks and goats graze, there is home: a house that appears fatally alien, »das Unheimliche«. Instead of a multitude of workers, revolutionaries, apparatchiks, Cossacks, traitors, fanatics, fantasts, there are only husband and wife and the space between their bodies and words. The entire external social conflict of panoramic dimensions is squeezed in between Gleb and Dasha. We are witnessing the explosion of communist revolution, identity and sex politics, class struggle, feminism, historical empowerment, and economic emancipation, set in the marital bedroom and kitchen. It is as if all political struggles start out on the skin and are sticking in and testing the resilience of the female body. As if the history of the 20th century has found its proper setting – the area of breath between his and her mouth.