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This study goes no further the June 1986. Six months after Bonner's return to Gorky came the dramatic telephone call from Gorbachev to Sakharov which prepared for the exiled couple's return to Moscow. When western correspondents met Sakharov at last back in his old haunts, they saw that he had aged terribly through his ordeals in Gorky. He seemed to be a sick man, his voice faltering. But it is, perhaps, thanks to his sufferings that many scores, even hundreds, were released in the months ahead from their confinement. His sufferings and those of his wife may have been used by the KGB propaganda machine to dramatize the new policy of openness, but in the post-Gorky world of Soviet politics, who can say where this policy will lead?  

 A final observation should be made. Photographs are ambiguous documents. We can't always be sure what detail will catch the viewer's eye to frustrate the photographer's intentions. With moving images, the ambiguity is more teasing because of the fleeting time the image is before us on the screen.  

 But you can't view and review three hours worth of material without becoming impressed by the central figures, without entering into a kind of internal dialogue with their personalities. And so from these tapes, persistent viewers will soon become closely acquainted with Andrei Sakharov and Elena Bonner. They will come to recognize at once Sakharov's figure, his slight stoop, the rounded dome of his head; and they will recognize, too, without having to be told, the sweetness of his character, his consideration for others, his devotion to his wife. What Solzhenitsyn called his "serene trustworthiness that comes from his own purity."[15] In one shot, taken for other reasons by the KGB, we can't help being struck by the way Sakharov rises and thanks the young nurse who has been attending them. In other shots, again intended by the KGB to tell a different story, we are impresses by the patient courtesy he extends to people who accost him on the street corners, he himself being unaware, of course, of their real purpose in doing so.  

 From these small details scattered throughout the tapes a much truer image emerges that the KGB film makers could have believed was possible, an image of nobility, serenity, courage and determination. This image finds its counterpart in that of his wife. Elena Bonner also has her moments in the tapes which tell us more about her than could ever a KGB narrator: the slow way she moves because of her heart, the way she uses her hands, carries her head, her laughter, the tone of her voice, above all the way she smokes - alas, much to the chagrin of her American doctors. Thanks to the KGB, we now possess these visual records of a very remarkable couple, records which will long outlive the shoddy purposes to which the KGB put them.   

Index of Papers   1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10 
11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  References 

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