The joy in the story lies in the details and I really enjoyed hearing about the arc of her life and her reflections on it. What I find infinitely compelling and interesting about these kinds of personal stories is that they defy the greater historical story arc. Svetlana experienced two dictatorships and her final words on the Germans (who killed her best friend and occupied her country) was that many had selflessly offered their help to make her work possible and that she owed them for this ("I'm translating to pay my debts"). While it's so tempting and easy to continually paint all Nazis/Germans as evil, the truth is so much more complicated. I feel this way about USSR-era stories as well. Nothing is as compelling as a personal story that defies these tropes and archetypes we have built up. Her ideas about translation really speak to the spirit of a language and the work she is tasked with, again destroying archetypes that have been built up. She reflects the spirit of artistic freedom and truthfulness.
While the documentary did not necessarily have a clear focus beyond being about Svetlana Geier, I enjoyed it. Her musings on translation ("You must translate with your nose in the air") and Dostoyevsky's work are prolific and thoughtful. One of my and my husband's favorite parts were her interactions with her translation colleagues (Herr Klodt was the best). The subject was interesting enough, but the documentary kind of plodded in a less-than-linear way. The subject of the documentary is too good to dismiss it entirely, though I have seen documentaries with a better sense of cohesion. The interview with the director here is definitely worth a read as well.