A thrilling, moving and engrossing drama, boasting powerfully affecting performances from its two young leads, In Bloom is a striking and mesmeric work of independent cinema from one of the world’s most unrepresented countries.
Tbilisi, 1992: Civil war is raging in the capital of the newly independent Georgia after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Amidst the mayhem, two inseparable fourteen-year-old friends, Natia and Eka, find their childhood coming to an end, with dysfunctional families, broken relationships and volatile politics all coming to a head. But the problems of disillusioned love, early marriage and oppressive male dominance will suddenly be thrown into sharp relief when one of the girls is given a gun… Continue reading
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A masterpiece that demands detailed study
It’s like Bergman and Kurosawa went to Georgia and decided to do Shakespeare together in the mountains. I’ve seen this film several times and there’s much I still haven’t grasped. It’s not an intellectual problem, but a cultural one…VEDREBA seems so deeply embedded in Georgian history that it’s nearly impossible for an outsider to find a way in.
The film is based entirely on the poetry of Vazha Pshavela, and I believe every line of “dialogue” is lifted directly from his poems. From what I can gather, the “story” concerns a soldier who, after feeling guilty about killing an enemy, becomes an outcast from whatever group he belongs to, then has visitations from both God and the devil who give him visions of the future (or perhaps one possible future). A full understanding of the film would seem to require knowledge of all the different groups of people living in the mountains of ancient Georgia, as well as a basic grasp of several various rituals. For instance, I have no idea what the significance of the main character beheading another man’s bull was, nor do I understand why, when said bull-owner calls for the lead to be killed, several other people began extinguishing candles in bowls of sheep’s blood.
The film’s main hero is Chermen. An illegitimate son, Chermen is striving to assert his dignity. He is opposed by Dacco, the elder of the Aldar clan, in whose village Chermen lives. Guided by mercenary motives, Dacco strikes a deal with Prince Tsarai. Together, they rob people and then divide the loot between themselves.
By some chance, Chermen learns of the deal and informs his friends about it. At first, he thinks that no one in the Aldar village would believe him, the bastard, and that the plot would remain unexposed. But the friends accept the challenge. Continue reading
Pastorale won the International Critics’ Prize from the 1982 Berlin Film Festival. Director Otar Ioseliani was something of an outsider in the Soviet system and now lives and works in France. This film, made in 1976, was not released in the West until 1982. Iosseliani’s films show a characteristically Georgian film style; focusing more on character and mood than narrative coherence, they exhibit a characteristically whimsical humor. Pastorale explores what is truly valuable in human relationships, when one cuts away the non-essentials. The story shows what happens when a highly cultured group of musicians from a string quartet spend the summer rehearsing in a small village in the Georgian countryside. In this contemplative, idiosyncratic and somewhat humorous film, they get embroiled in local controversies, and share their gusto for living, loving and drinking with the villagers, to whom they are otherwise incomprehensible, while they rehearse and bicker among themselves. Continue reading
Three French hipsters and their translator travel through rural Georgia to claim a remote, ruined castle that one of them has inherited. En route, they encounter an old man and his grandchild who are on a journey to carry out a mysterious, morbid ritual designed to end a conflict between warring clans. Continue reading
I am Sergei Parajanov! shot a few months after Parajanov’s death. Features archive photographs, his collages, the clips from Sayat-Nova (1968), Ashik Kerib (1988), the making of The Legend of the Surami Fortress (1984) and a few views of the house he lived. Continue reading
A gem from Paradjanov’s early oeuvre is a musical agitation film or a romantic comedy, made by the young director under the guidance of Alexander Dovzhenko and set in the immense fields of the collectivised Ukraine. The social realism is replaced by colourful, convivial and dancing shots of the “Pabieda” (Victory) kolkhoz, where peasant women sing in the fields, and boys march with banners glorifying revolution. Against this backdrop, intense romantic feelings have reached a climactic stage; tailor Sidor Sidorovich, farmer Jushka and soldier Danila Petrovich all dote on the fair-haired Odarka. It is Jushka and Danila who engage in overt hostility; the initial “gentlemen’s” contest turns into an outright confrontation, resulting in miserable Jushka being increasingly more desperate and scorned by the villagers.