At that moment, a German patrol ambushes them. The three men all escape, but Burov is wounded and it is now Sushenya who rescues him. Through a series of flashbacks, we begin to learn what brought the men to this position. Burov's principled stand against collaboration with the Nazis leads directly to the death of his mother, and paradoxically it is Sushenya's decision not to betray his friends to the end that sees him fall under a partisan death penalty.
That said, the drama is intense throughout and perhaps, considering historical circumstance, it isn't that surprising that those portaged have lost their sense of humour. Sushenya, with his beard and stoic act of self-sacrifice, is a Christ-like figure. Burov seems like a simple man with a strong code of honour which he cannot but abide by. Voitik (Sergei Kolesov), the man who holds the horses of history, likewise has a quiet fatalistic patience. Ultimately, historical complexity, contradictions and betrayals will all be erased by an almost holy fog. One would hope Loznitsa's In the Fog, with its images and relentless seriousness, will endure.
The 56th BFI London Film Festival runs from 10-21 October. For more of our LFF coverage, simply follow this link.