An onion has no center. When one cuts through an onion, one does not find a central point.

The onion has an objective. The objective of an onion is the new onion. This is basically where the idea begins.

In Dostoyevsky’s novels, there is always a cadence, the story within the story that is not directly associated with the plot, but which, like an onion within an onion, is in fact the core of the whole thing.

And there is the comparison to people, because existence itself cannot be the objective people strive for. It is only justified by the fact that it is the way to something that transcends it.

– Svetlana Geier speaking in the film, The Woman with the 5 Elephants

The trailer for the film:

Her knowledge of the German language enabled Geier to live thru the Nazi occupation of Kiev and the tragedy of the Babi Yar massacre of the Jews. Ironically, she ended up in Germany, spending her life as both a teacher and a translator of Russian literature into German. The 5 elephants referred to are her life’s work – the translation of Dosoyevsky’s greatest works, Crime and PunishmentThe Idiot, The DevilsA Raw Youth, and The Brothers Karamazov. Even in her 80’s, her eyes are crystal blue with a smile that echoes that of a teenager who had a great love of books. She speaks in philosophical and poetic metaphors like the one above, that are witness to her love of language and literature. But there is a greater story underneath – one that she has held back from telling even her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. When she is invited to Kiev to give a seminar as a guest lecturer, a place she hadn’t been back to in 65 years, that story is revealed.

It’s a wonderful film and beautifully composed – worth taking the time to watch and listen to a story that is revealed in so many different layers.

Additional information is available on the film’s website