It's a very unusual movie in many respects. The production year is 1969, the height of the Soviet regime, hard-line ideology had triumphed in Prague and some modest gains during Khruschev's "ottepel"/thaw were quickly ...展开being dismantled.
And all of a sudden we see on the screen a mountain village in the heart of Dagestan, a small autonomous republic on the Caspian sea (yes, that same area where the Russians are fighting local Islamic guerrillas now - well, most of you will have to check your knowledge of geography, since it is generally non-existent). Guess what, it's the 60s and there is virtually no Soviet power to speak of. It was a true statement then, but something that the Soviet regime would never want to acknowledge, particularly on screen. How the heck this movie sneaked past the censorship - still beats me, there must be an interesting story to tell.
Moreover, the villagers live according to Sharia law, the movie, although in a very comical way, portrays the condition of the woman in the Islamic soviet republic. The whole storyline is based on the obscure Sharia custom of marriage. I was puzzled and surprised watching this.
It's a very warm movie in its portrayal of people and village life. It feels untypically authentic and void of any hint of propaganda. Even the soviet-type ending fits well and is quite believable. In any case, nothing changes much about these people, just a few minor things. We are in 2009, and this is as true as it was back then.