Repentance is a Russian film that was completed in 1984. This political parable about the evils of totalitarianism set box office records when it was released in Moscow. Avtandil Makharasdze stars as the power-hungry mayor of a small Russian town. When his dreams of establishing a workers' paradise clash with the traditionalism of some Christians and the individuality of a painter and his wife, the mayor uses cunning and deceit to trample them into the ground. After the mayor dies, the artistic couple's daughter defiles his memory by digging up his corpse. Members of his family must then come to terms with his legacy of violence and hate.
Director Tengiz Abuladze uses melodrama, satire, and surrealism to attack the malevolence of dictators who profess to serve the will of the people but really desire nothing more than the rewards of raw power. Repentance celebrates the ethical values of religion and the cultural values of art as alternatives to the dehumanizing excesses of tyranny. Although a bit too didactic in its messages, this film offers a bold critique of Stalinism in Soviet history.