Epic

Andrei Konchalovsky – Sibiriada aka Siberiade (1979)

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This ambitious 1979 Russian film attempts no less a feat than the encapsulation of the tumultuous history of Russia in the 20th century. Written and directed by Andrei Konchalovsky (Runaway Train, Tango and Cash), the film weaves an engrossing tale of three generations of two Russian families in the remote region of Siberia, each trying in their own way to find fulfillment in their lives as they seek to reconcile themselves with the ever-changing landscape of their homeland. Sandwiched between the chaotic events of the First and Second World Wars, as well as the Russian Revolution of 1917, the people of the small village find themselves at the cusp of great changes, from communications to the expanding infrastructure and the changes that brings, to the discovery of oil and the riches and perils that come with it. Konchalovsky juxtaposes archival footage with stunning cinematography and contrasts the assaultive changes of the modern world with the timeless impulses of family and the enduring need to adapt and survive. Reminiscent of such great films as Giant and 1900, Siberiade is a visually adept and stunningly effective epic about the price of a country’s history on its people. —Robert Lane
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Tizuka Yamasaki – Gaijin – Os Caminhos da Liberdade AKA Gaijin: Roads to Freedom (1980)

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The first film of Tizuka Yamasaki, a young Brazilian woman of Japanese ancestry, Gaijin: Roads to Freedom is based on the experiences of Yamasaki’s own grandmother in coming to Brazil in the wave of immigration at the turn of the century, when Japanese were encouraged to join the Brazilian labor force during that country’s coffee boom. In an effort to comply with the immigration agents’ preference for family units, a very young Titoe marries Yamada, a man whom she has never met, and the two leave for Brazil. Life on the plantation is close to slavery: workers, forced to buy food at the plantation store, are presented with falsified accounts, and at the end of the year are still in debt to the plantation. The film treats relations between Brazilian plantation owners and foremen and their Japanese laborers (a group which, traditionally, did not cause labor problems), as well as relations between the Japanese and other immigrant groups, in particular the Italians. A compelling story of a woman’s struggle to survive, spanning many years, is juxtaposed with the growing union consciousness among immigrant workers in Brazil. Read More »

Lars von Trier – Medea (1988)

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Quote:
Lars von Trier´s direction makes this film a shocking look into the disturbed mind of a woman who has been scorned and left. Medea´s revenge is horrible but never unbelievable. She does what every sane person would do, when deprived of all that she loves. The film burns itself into your mind and leaves you with a lasting impression of what human misery can be like. Read More »

Oles Sanin – Mamay (2003)

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Quote:
Mamay draws on traditional Ukranian and Tatar folktales for its Romeo and Juliet-like love story and parable about chivalry and the struggle for freedom. Hundreds of years ago, in the wild steppes of Crimea that form an uneasy border between East and West, Europe and Asia, nomad and farmer, the proud Cossack Mamay falls in love with the Tatar beauty Omai. The title, like the storyline, holds a variety of different meanings taken from different cultures. In Turkic languages, it means “no one,” but it was also the name of a famous Mongol conqueror, the great grandson of Ghengis-Khan. In Persian legends, mamay literally means “the spirit of the steppes”. Read More »

Emil Loteanu – Lautarii (1973)

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Leader of a traveling gypsy band from the steppes of Bessarabia (now Moldova), Toma Alistar is a skilled violinist whose fame takes him on tours around European capitals and royal courts. He remains obsessed with his first love, beautiful Leanca who was married elsewhere while Toma was traveling, and spends his life and fortune trying to find her. Written by Markku Kuoppamäki Read More »

Marcello Baldi – Marte, dio della guerra AKA Mars, God of War (1962)

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SYNOPSIS
Entertaining fantasy-based peplum, starring American actor Roger Browne as the God of War.

The king of Telbia defeats an African army through the intervention of the war god Mars. Remaining on Earth, Mars falls in love with the human girl Daphne, but she is forced to become a priestess in the temple of Venus. Mars tries to free her, but falls under the spell of Venus, who keeps him prisoner. Daphne, meanwhile, having violated the sanctity of the temple, is condemned to be devoured by a monster.

Director Marcello Baldi composes his shots to make full use of the Totalscope image, making this picture a must in widescreen. Highlights include the opening battle between the Greek and African armies and a Little Shoppe of Horrors-type plant monster to whom maidens are sacrificed. Read More »

Sergei Bodrov & Ivan Passer – Nomad (2005)

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18th century Kazakhstan, a vast, pitiless region of austere and terrible beauty, bordered by China, Russia and Tibet. Here the proud and warlike Kazakh tribes have survived and fought for centuries – against invaders, against their formidable Jungar enemies and amongst themselves.
Oraz, a mystic and warrior possessed of great powers, foretells the birth of a new star, a hero. This boy -Mansur – is destined to unite the Kazakhs, and lead them to glorious victory against their enemies. Fearful of Oraz’ prediction, the Jungar ruler Galdan orders his General, Sharish, to find the child and slay him. However, Oraz saves Mansur and delivers him to his father, Sultan Wali. Read More »