The Great Water (2005) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Great Water (2005)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

A man near the end of his life relives a crucial period from his youth in this powerful drama. Lem Nikodinoski (Meto Jovanovski) is a prominent Macedonian politician who has suffered a severe heart attack. As Lem drifts between life and death, his mind wanders to his childhood, and he observes his younger self (played by Saso Kekenovski) during his days in a camp for children whose parents were unwilling to embrace Russia's Stalinist regime following World War II. Ariton (Mitko Apostolovski), the camp's headmaster, is a strong taskmaster, but he displays a genuine compassion for his charges; Olivera (Verica Nedeska), his second in command, takes a more stern approach, and is willing to dole out physical punishment to any child who does not absorb her Stalinist teachings. One day, a new boy enters the camp, Isak (Maja Stankovska), who displays a calm but resilient nature that's different from the fearful attitudes of the other children. After initial resistance, Lem becomes close friends with Isak, and their friendship helps Lem confront the horrors of camp life in a new way. Writer and director Ivo Trajkov cast teenage actress Maja Stankovska to play Isak after a long series of unsuccessful auditions failed to find a young man who had the right look for the role.
Art House & International , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:


Rade Serbedzija
as narrator
Nikolina Kujaca
as Ariton's Wife
Meto Jovanovski
as Lem (as old man)
Saso Kekenovski
as Lem Nikodinoski (as boy)
Risto Gogovski
as Bellman
Verica Nedeska
as Olivera
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for The Great Water

All Critics (21) | Top Critics (9)

Pic's balance of emotional truth in the hands of a talented cast and charged by Medencevic's lensing and Kiril Dzajkovski's powerfully moody score, reps a bold step forward for Balkan cinema.

Full Review… | September 9, 2005
Top Critic

It is an impressionistic, sometimes fascinating, sometimes frustrating, window into a culture and country that was long walled off from the West.

September 9, 2005
Detroit Free Press
Top Critic

All of it, Chingo and Trajkov suggest, goes into shaping a Macedonian national identity uneasily poised between religious longing and ideological resolve.

Full Review… | July 13, 2005
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic

You leave this film intrigued by its aspiration and not likely to forget the world it's introduced you to.

Full Review… | June 30, 2005
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

Portentous melodrama.

June 30, 2005
L.A. Weekly
Top Critic

The Great Water is ultimately about the indomitability of faith, and the Christian symbolism is laid on thick.

June 17, 2005
New York Daily News
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Great Water

Macedonian blockbuster is more successful as a technical accomplishment than as an engaging narrative.

Lee Mayo
Lee Mayo

The Great Water (2005) - "Friendship must be earned. I didn't understand what that meant then, but I remembered those words for the rest of my life." - Lem Nikodinoski Based on Zhivko Chingo's novel and set in 1945, "The Great Water" is the harrowing story of twelve year old Lem, whose parents were "removed" for their opposition to Tito-Stalin. The story takes place in an camp designed to recondition the kids for their eventual absorption into the collective. An unflinching recollection of the madness that was Stalin, of the human vermin that rose in its (his) shadow, their victims, and the terrible courage of the youngsters who resisted, "Great Water" is a punishing film. The story is much more than a confession, or a stark reminder of a page in the history of a land that has had it's share of violence. There was a greater evil in Europe in the years leading up to 1945 and strange bedfellows combined to crush him. In the wake of Germany's destruction, Tito rose to join Stalin and Democracy stood across the borders and glared at him until Tito's death in 1980. The land that was Yugoslavia began to unravel shortly afterward, accelerating in the 1990s, eventually leading to brutal ethnic violence and the ultimate intervention by NATO in early 2000. A beautiful people, their capacity for violence has always mystified me. Perhaps now I have a greater appreciation of the passions, and a greater kinship.

Rich Brown
Rich Brown

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