Ambivalent Russophiles like myself will know what Yekaterinburg is because it’s the place where the Bolsheviks shot the Romanovs. That historical event provokes discussions outside the city, and a hundred years after it, the city is now Russia’s fourth biggest city and a battleground of political opinions. The Last Relic shows its viewers some pro-Putin rallies and strangely enough, pro-monarchist parties. However, for the most part, it shows the dissenting voices debating on the sidelines.
The Last Relic is about the maybe not so surprising coexistence of opposing political beliefs in Russia. Tangentially, the camerawork also makes it about the dissemination of the information from both parties. One of the scenes here show a leftist protest which seems like it’s specifically about the education budget in Yekaterinburg, and it juxtaposes images of the student protesters with old women looking vacuous, possibly a comment on the left’s messaging tactics.
Telling contemporary Yekaterinburg’s story doesn’t have to be the story of the self-flagellating leftist, or at least my projections as such. Yes, it occasionally shows young people treating protests like Coachella, but it equally shows the inherent ridiculousness of holding a strongman competition in honour of swole King Nicholas II. There is a part of me that wants to see at least one right wing character here but the decision not to have that is understandable.
Other than the lack of balance, Last Relic is probably the second documentary I saw at the fest that chooses a mosaic-like storytelling at the expense of its subjects. Nonetheless, some moments stand out which make the doc watchable. There’s effectiveness in some of the small moments, like one of the activists drinking smoothies and changing his diet so he’s able to outlive Putin. Or one of the military processions showing an ancient, vulnerable regime.
- Release Date: 4/29/2023