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Critics, writers, and private individuals of all beliefs and persuasions, from all republics, began to publish personal thoughts and feelings about Repentance. For the majority, Abuladze's film was a personal catharsis.' Professional film reviews concentrated on formal questions but,
nevertheless, echoed amateurs in stressing the emotional effect of the film and its role in Soviet society as catharsis:
Even under the crushing forces of evil, "man's beautiful essence cannot die." These are words by Vazha Pshavela, poet and prophet, the epigraph to The Prayer, which could serve as the basic theme of the entire triptych. . . . And the light shines in the darkness. The marble features of a man tied on the snow, the brave khevsur, the suffering eyes of Marita, and then the bright faces [sic]of the victims of Varlam's mass terror are resurrected by the memory of the artist, his sympathy, tears, and love.'
Beauty, the beauty of the film itself, the various shots: Sandro and Nino at night as he plays the piano and she sleeps, the beauty of nature, the beauty which Varlam could not destroy. The spiritual and moral victory in this film, of the artist over the confusion and lies of the
world maimed by Varlam. . . . Here we sense the catharsis provided so many by Abuladze's film: The feeling that man, despite all, is great and will not die, that art and the memory of the good and the true and the beautiful can somehow bring retribution and forgiveness for the complicity of the past.
Formal questions foliowed suit, The genre was elevated: "In Repentance the theme of the guilty without guilt, the sacrifice of the heroic and the beautiful in the name of 'the commmon good' takes on the sublime sound of a requiem, the optimistic meaning of high tragedy". The
heroes became "epic," that is, "living people":
The images of the heroes equipped with moral instincts have taken on a fullness, a roundness of existence in Repentance which they did not have in the previous parts of the triptych, where they were either poetic abstractions or comic masks. Here they have become living people. The spiritual, morally conscious self no longer needs a romantic pose or comic ostranenie. It has enlerged as a life force, self-assured in its rightness. In that I see a great creative achievement by Abuladze and Soviet cinema in general. . . . Art, great art has pronounced its heavy, much carried and much suffered word. NOMI depends on us to it hear it, to take it into our soul and heart. It's now up to us."
A smail number of Russian critics used Repentance to stress the continuing need for vigilance, self-evaluation, and honesty in the new age. Their basic points were that glasnost and perestroika were spinning their wheels, that the post-Stalinist psyche was not yet ready for
preaching but had to go through a long period of confession, and that each individual should address the question responsibility for the past to hirnself, not to others." Nevertheless, reviews of Repentance give the general impression that for the first time in many years the Soviet
psyche felt itself moved. cleansed, and put back on the proper road again, "headed toward the cathedral." As one critic wrote,
And then suddenly, at the end of the film, a little old lady appears, heading up the hill. looking for the road to the church. The music is the heavenly chorale from the oratorio "Death and Life" by Gounod. And we move to the enlightened end of the picture, the beginning of repentance for many Soviets, repentance from the blood of the past, of history, of complicity, bequeathed to Veriko Anjaparidze--and along that last road the great Georgian actress walked into eternity. Veriko passed away during the Moscow premiere of Reperttance.
Both Soiuzinformkino and the best reviews acknowledged the complex symbolic structure and difficulty of Abuladze's film and wisely recommended seeing Repentance with The Prayer and Tree of Desire, the first two films in Abuladze's trilogy." The more, however, one studies Repentance within the context of the trilogy, the more one understands how simplistic the reaction to Abuladze's film has been and the more one is reminded of the overwhelming complexities and problems that the present generation in the Soviet Union has inherited. The naive belief that
repentance comes easily, that the times will quickly change, and that the younger generation will soon "be with us again and the land united in brotherhood" is anticipated and seriously questioned, if not essentially denied, in Abuladze's cinema trilogy.
Repentance is the last leg of a journey that, beginning with The Prayer (1967) and Tree of Desire (1975), takes the viewer deep into history, man, psychology, and nature, on a philosophical and moral quest for understanding the evil events of the twentieth century." The journey begins in ancient times in the cradle of civilization, the Caucasus Mountains (The Prayer), continues in that same region in the prerevolutionary period (Tree of Desire), and finally moves to the time of "modern" terror (Reperzmnce). The three films, which draw upon classic works of
Georgian literature, acknowledge the hold evil has upon man and the great courage it takes to stand up to it, particularly in the second half of the twentieth century.
Date Added: 11/08/2012 by Kokaia Ilo
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