The Nevsky Wall
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Chapter 5   -  The Luga Line

With his escort in tow, Alex walked to a nearby truck from which a crew of women were unloading pine logs. The logs, each about eight feet in length, were used to buttress the steep edge of the trenches. He unpacked the camera, loaded the daylight spool, and wound the spring motor to its stopping point. He climbed the hood of the truck and, standing on the top of the cab, took some quick establishing shots to capture the sweep of the scene. Work big to small – that’s what he was taught. Set the stage, then find the drama in the close-up. The story is in the faces. The audience needs to see faces that remind them of themselves.

He walked along the top level of the embankment, the camera held in a soft cloth bag to protect it from the dust, then stopped and filmed the work of a group of four women. They worked in pairs, an older and a younger woman together, one pair on the bottom level and one on the upper tier. Alex guessed that the pair on the lower level were mother and daughter – the girl was barely a teenager, and she stayed close to the older woman.

It was the mother’s dress that had initially caught his eye – a yellow print, stylish in its cut, which set her apart and spoke of privilege. She worked more slowly than the others and with more difficulty, pausing often to lean on her shovel and rub the small of her back. The young woman in the upper pair wore khakis and an eager expression. A peasant woman labored next to her. She was thick-legged, bent and weathered, like one of those gnarled trees that are shaped by the wind on the taiga.

He shot the footage of the workers quickly before any of them noticed his presence. “I’m going to ask them some questions,” he informed the lieutenant, who nodded and loudly barked, “Comrades! You, you, and you. The newsreel man needs your attention. Comrades!” Alex pulled a small notepad from his pocket. He was not accustomed to talking to his film subjects – that task was usually handled by someone from the Information Bureau – and it took him a moment to arrange his thoughts.

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Chapter 5   -  The Luga Line

3 Responses to “Chapter 5”

  1. G Garcia says:

    “Did you know that I can fire a rifle as well as anyone!””

    My kind of girl.

  2. G Garcia says:

    Powerful. I’M HOOKED.

    Now I am late to work. Damn you.

    So many beautifully written passages to swirl about, making your writing a pleasure to read, because these things I genuinely feel. To quote a few:

    “truth to her, was a performance”

    “But the dread of waiting and the lack of positive news was a disease eating away at the city. The central apparatus of morale, which had sprung into full action in those early days, required heroes. *** And if they could not be found, they would be created.**** ”

    “newsreels were a magic show pitched at the common man”

    “The audience needs to see faces that remind them of themselves.”

  3. Rosli says:

    Hi pip,i love your photos.i raced the SJS this wekeend in Gunnedah. i came 3rd in the swim . 5th on the bike and had a really bad run! i am racing again next wekeend.i miss you guys hi uncle justin. good luck in your next race!i also loved your youtube video.lots of love baixxx

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