Archive for February, 2011

February 16, 2011

There is a fine line between the heaven and the hell…


“The Banishment” (2007).

(review)

Based on a story of American Armenian novelist William Saroyan “The Laughing Matter”

Directed by Andrei Zvyagintsev
It does not matter where we are – on our land or somewhere else. It does not matter who we are – natives, immigrants, the language we speak. It does not even matter what we are – good, bad, family oriented, single, black, white, smart, stupid, poor, rich, whether we have successfully blended into the society or whether we are outcasts. Do we believe in god, the devil or none of that, do we waste our time or do righteous things … We all are in biblical exile.

That is what we almost never remember, the global life evidence, against which everything else is only the vanity of vanities, a vicious circle, a relay, an imaginary competition, where there are no winners, and losers are known much ahead of the time.

“The banishment” is an extremely asocial and abstract Russian film of the twenty-first century, the action of which, as contested by many critics, occurs “everywhere and nowhere, always and never.” It is, however, Zvyagintsev, who provoked such a violent reaction that could have been the envy of any brawler and “neformal” (Zvyagintsev himself is neither of those though).

Similarly, only a decade ago Tarantino and his students were examples of bad taste and were opposed to the example of Bresson and Dreyer, whereas today audiences demand from art lightweight games with genres, irony and  postmodern quotation. Something that used to be considered a sin and frivolity is now qualified as something serious.

Zvyagintsev has his own opinion on this issue. He notes: “The film is not a paraphrase of domestic strife in criminal chronicles. You should take what you see on the screen with understanding of what the truth is in the film and how it differs from the reality.

Watching the story on the screen and then trying to apply it directly to life is fundamentally wrong. I remember when shooting a family dinner scene in “Return”, someone criticized me, saying that no Russian peasant would have wine on his table, but vodka. Though according to the content of the scene, wine could be the only drink on that table. Artistic truth is more important than external reality. The concept of art, in my view, has been devalued in our country in recent years. Maybe it’s time the shills should stand at the doors of theatres and cinemas and ingratiate the public as the artists  prefer to speak in the language of the crowd? And what is the language of the crowd? Short questions and equally short answers. They all fit into the moral conceptions of the world about actions and interactions of people. Art has to deal with very different categories.”

Victoria A.

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