The Eve of Ivan Kupalo / Vechir na Ivana Kupala




Ukrainian SSR


Oleksandr Dovzhenko Film Studio


72 min


Yurii Illienko


Yurii Illienko


Vadym Illenko


Larysa Kadochnykova, Borys Khmelnytskyi, Yukhym Fridman, Dmytro Franko, Boryslav Brondukov, Mykhailo Illienko, Viktor Panchenko, Davyd Yanover, Kostiantyn Yershov

The young peasant, Petro, falls deeply in love with the daughter of his employer. Though she reciprocates his affection, her father staunchly opposes the idea of her marrying a simple laborer. Overwhelmed by grief, Petro seeks solace at a local tavern, where he encounters Basavriuk, a figure believed by many to be the devil himself. Basavriuk presents Petro with a chilling proposition, one that could enable him to win the girl he yearns for.

This marks the second film directed and produced by Yurii Illienko. Similar to his previous work, A Well for the Thirsty, it faced censorship under the Soviet regime. The film draws from Mykola Hohol’s story of the same name about Ukrainian Faust, but beneath its surface, director Yurii Ililenko conceals the rich mythological history of Ukraine. From Cossack stories and Tatar raids to the facades of Potemkin villages and the spiritual journey to the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra — a layered narrative unfolds.

Even in contemporary times, Illienko’s film continues to captivate with its vivid saturation and evocative surrealism. Shot amidst the tracts near the village of Buchak, now submerged beneath the Kaniv Reservoir — an artifact in its own right — the production crew painted the landscape with cows and mountains. The film’s style, ahead of its era, encompasses unconventional visual approaches and innovative editing techniques, foreshadowing the aesthetics of music videos.