Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors
(Sergei Parajanov, 1965)Shadows
. That's a laugh. As if the film were going to present flickering glimpses of some lost time. No, this is one of the most vibrant films you'll ever see. It makes the frenetic opening of Kusturica's Time of the Gypsies
(which I'd guess was inspired by Parajanov) feel subdued by comparison. The screenshots above, wonderful as I think they are, fail to convey the manic, swirling energy of the silent film-style visuals — energy amplified considerably by the relentless eddying of the traditional folk songs on the soundtrack. This isn't a film. It's a drunken puppet show put on by a drunk puppeteer for a drunk audience. And it's dazzling.
Typical of drunken entertainment, Shadows of Forgetten Ancestors
is also fairly confusing. I'm generally not much for symbolism, which remains true here, so I was more engaged by the simple love story of the film's first half than the hallucinogenic chaos of the second. I'm positive I would definitely get more out of a second viewing, but even after one hundred viewings I'd still lack anything close to full coherence. That's not necessarily a flaw, though. The pace of the poetry is so thrilling that I was generally happy to be outstripped by it. There are a few moments that border on cheesy, however, as the reach of the film's vision exceeds its grasp. Strong performances could have improved things as well, but puppets have their limits.
This marathon is largely about transitioning cinematic landscapes amid the general politic and social shift of the 1960s, and few films fit the bill better, with Parajanov initiating his resistance against Soviet social realism. It's not a movie that captures shadows. It's one that continues to cast them.Grade:
For more on Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors
, check out the epic review by joem18b
, along with the thoughts of Thor
, and michael x
Up next: Larisa Shepitko's Wings