Max Irons (Yuri). George Mendeluk
(Director), Samantha Barks (Natalka) & Ian Ihnatowycz
Max Irons as Yuri and Samantha Barks as
Natalka in Bitter Harvest
Bitter Harvest cast & crew being introduced
at the Ham House Hotel in Soho, London.
Terence Stamp as Ivan, Yuri's Cossack
Bitter Harvest Official Trailer
Max Irons again as Yuri
Based on one of the most overlooked tragedies of the 20th
century, Bitter Harvest is a powerful story of love, honour, rebellion and
survival as seen through the eyes of two young lovers caught in the ravages of
Joseph Stalin's genocidal policies against Ukraine in the 1930s.
As Stalin advances the ambitions of communists in the Kremlin, a
young artist named Yuri ( Max Irons ) battles to survive famine, imprisonment
and torture to save his childhood sweetheart Natalka (Samantha Barks from the Holodomor the death-by-starvation program that ultimately killed millions of
Against this tragic backdrop, Yuri escapes from a Soviet prison
and joins the anti-Bolshevik resistance movement as he battles to reunite with
Natalka and continue the fight for a free Ukraine.
Links to Bitter Harvest Reviews & News:
Ukrainian Weekly | "Bitter Harvest - universal
romance shines a light on truth about the Holodomor." |
BBC News| "Bitter Harvest: light shone on
Ukrainian tragedy" |
Perceived Cinematic Treatment of Gareth Jones
in Bitter Harvest:
In a short scene on a train in the movie, the only character with a
pronounced Welsh accent belongs to an unnamed Welsh journalist, played by
Dylan Williams. The scene is described in the
Ukrainian Weekly's film review:
"On his way to the Kyiv Art Academy, Yuri encounters the [unnamed]
reporter "Gareth Jones", who reveals the horrible secret of
induced famine throughout the land. As Jones disembarks, two hungry
children's faces appear, pressed to the railcar window - and just as
quickly, as in a dream, they disappear. Yuri then sees Jones arrested
outside and his glasses (the agency of sight and truth) crushed on the
pavement. Later, when Yuri is driven to sort out refuse on the streets
of Kyiv, he notices a similar pair of glasses."
Though the scene indirectly relates to an episode from Gareth's journalist diary notes & subsequent newspaper articles, what clinches his identity is because he is
unexplainably seen holding an orange peel:
Everywhere was the cry, "There is no bread; we are dying." This cry came to me from every part of Russia. In a train a Communist denied to me that there was a famine. I flung into the spittoon a crust of bread I had been eating from my own supply. The peasant, my fellow-passenger, fished it out and ravenously ate it. I threw orange peel into the spittoon. The peasant again grabbed and devoured it. The Communist subsided.
[Published: Daily Express. March 30th 1933]
[It is understood that a following scene with Gareth throwing the orange peel into the spittoon was removed during a final edit.]
Nonetheless, it is also believed that Gareth was after due consideration, intentionally unnamed/unaccredited in Bitter Harvest for historical accuracy because;
1) Gareth's mysterious murder (& by most probably the Soviet Secret police) actually occurred in Inner Mongolia two years later in 1935 & unlike his screen ending is alluded to Yuri by seeing Gareth's deliberately smashed spectacles on the street of Kyiv.
2) And furthermore, the chances of Yuri, the film's young hero, ever meeting Gareth on a train going to Kyiv would have been nigh on impossible, as Gareth never actually travelled there in 1933 (primarily since between 1919 & 1934 the then Soviet political capital of Ukraine was Kharkiv; which is where Gareth did manage to visit during his unescorted off-limits trek that year)...
Therefore, though most cinema-goers would be completely unaware of Gareth's role in truthfully reporting the Holodomor, to those who do, then they at least, would appreciate Gareth's presence & due recognition in Bitter Harvest.
In an interview with
New Pathway Ian Ihnatowycz revealed: '...whether it's Gareth Jones on
the train speaking to the main character, Yuri, you need to decide for
yourself. That's the intrigue that we let the viewers think about and the
film is very rich that way.”
In appreciation of the above film scene's recognition of
Gareth Jones role in internationally exposing the Holodomor in 1933, then at
the London premiere on 20th February 2017, Nigel Linsan Colley (great
nephew of Gareth Jones) is pictured below showing as a curio, an actual pair of Gareth
Jones' boyhood spectacles (which Gareth can be also seen wearing, aged about
10, circa 1915) to Ian Ihnatowycz, the film's Producer.
Professor Lubomyr Luciuk (Publisher of
'Tell Them We Are Starving -
The 1933 Soviet Diaries of Gareth Jones'), Ian Ihnatowycz
(Bitter Harvest Producer) & Nigel Linsan Colley (Great nephew
of journalist Gareth Jones).
Gareth Jones, aged about 10, circa 1915
Close-up of Gareth's wearing spectacles
Nigel Colley presenting Bitter Harvest's film Director, George Mendeluk
(pictured right) with a copy of: 'Tell Them We Are Starving -
The 1933 Soviet Diaries of Gareth Jones') at a Q&A Bitter Harvest promotional event in London on
Saturday 18th February 2017.