The Stone Cross / Kaminnyi khrest




Ukrainian SSR,


Oleksandr Dovzhenko Film Studio


81 min


Leonid Osyka


Ivan Drach


Valerii Kvas


Danylo Ilchenko, Boryslav Brondukov, Kostiantyn Stepankov, Antonina Leftii, Ivan Mykolaichuk, Borys Savchenko, Kateryna Mateiko, Oleksa Atamaniuk 

A Galician peasant Ivan Didukh in a desperate attempt to get his family out of abject poverty decides to leave his ancestral home and seek a better live in Canada. On the eve of his departure, a thief gets into his house. Following the old custom Ivan calls on his neighbors to sit in judgment of the criminal. A surreal feast ensues. The thief asks Ivan Didukh for and get his forgiveness. The village judges nevertheless sentence him to death. The departure for Canada being tantamount to his own death, Ivan holds a farewell party that feels very much like a wake for him and his family. In his own memory he erects a stone cross on a hill. In a larger sense, Ivan Didukh’s stone cross is the monument to thousands of his compatriots who had and still all too often today are compelled to leave their homeland.

Inspired by stories of the Ukrainian writer Vasyl Stefanyk (1871-1936), this film is Ukrainian poetic cinema at its best – extremely terse and laconic in outward expression, but intensely psychological and shattering in the understated delivery of its message. Shot in a striking black-and-white, it brings to mind Akira Kurosawa. Today “Stone Cross” remains little known and even less appreciated both in and outside Ukraine. A true gem of world film art it is a peak of Ukrainian filmmaking that has no parallels.

Osyka demonstrates on the screen the heroes of Vasyl Stefanyk’s novel, ordinary peasants, tied up in the usual everyday problems and dilemmas, whose life becomes terrifyingly ordinary tragedy.

Yuilia Kovalenko