Colourful 'optimistic tragedy' of a poor family in Ukraine, living in the Carpathian mountains near the Romanian border, during the Second World War. Five sons of the family make up the ...
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Colourful 'optimistic tragedy' of a poor family in Ukraine, living in the Carpathian mountains near the Romanian border, during the Second World War. Five sons of the family make up the village band, but as the battles between the Nazi-supported Ukranian nationalists and the Soviets go on, their band loses one player after another.Written by
A WWII movie set in the Carpathians and named after the Ukrainian version of Pandora's Box, this is a sheer masterpiece! Well, in these last few months I have seen quite a few films set in similar regions, depicting similar (in cases, the same) lifestyle, but I have to say this has been the most affecting till date. We see a very delicate episode of the Carpathian history played out here – starting from the Soviet reclamation of Carpathians through the Nazi-Romanian occupation to Soviet rescue again – and no, I have spoilt nothing. All of it is captured through the life of a family of musicians, comprised of five brothers and a struggling-to-provide father. The eldest brother joins the Soviets while a younger one joins the nationalists - in due course of time, through the promiscuity of love, one ends up being responsible for the other's life. The wide-eyed, typically Carpathian mountain beauty is present here in Dana, for whom three people get entangled in a twist of fate. The film has a very solid story, superb, rustic and lively music, great costumes and detailing and also some very good frames. The landscapes are shot brilliantly – the slippery rocks, the difficulty of warfare in the terrain, the monstrous rafts, and harshness of life in conjunction with shortage of food – everything is sketched beautifully. There are a few sequences that are unforgettable – the family playing as their house burns, the strange percussion that produces brilliant sounds, Giorgiy's (the youngest son) reaction to a broken illusion, the rowing of the raft through a mad river, the bride distributing the bread, and definitely, the final chase. A film that is stylized like others from this region, but makes a difference in the impact that it achieves – it goes beyond an ethnographic movie and tells us a universal story, which when set against the daunting Carpathians, becomes a devastating and magnificent poetry. Time very very well spent.
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