Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (Tini zabutykh predkiv) - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (Tini zabutykh predkiv) Reviews

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½ March 1, 2010
A striking folk tale of doomed love in "a God-forsaken Carpathian region", this is my first Parajanov film, but it won't be the last. From a storytelling standpoint, it's sometimes obscure (and, like a number of Russian films, slow-moving), but it's filled with examples of Parajanov's visual poetry. From elaborate camera tricks (one early shot is from the POV of a falling tree) to the use of color, freeze-framing, and symbolism, the film is a visual feast. The authentic Carpathian music adds to the strange, almost dream-like atmosphere. The characters are drawn essentially as archetypes, giving the actors little scope, but they all do creditably well, particularly the luminously beautiful Larisa Kadochnikova, who makes for a most effective star-crossed lover. Ivan Mikolajchuk isn't bad as the lovelorn hero, either. The themes of love and fate are effectively utilized throughout, as the story takes on a tragic sense of inevitability. Parajanov's brilliant eye and imagination take an old Ukrainian tale and bring it to strange, eerie, but effective life.
½ February 2, 2010
Paradjanov just has such an eye for what's beautiful. While the plot may have been a bit tedious it's more than made up for by great camera work, beautiful mise-en-scene, and not to mention those black and white scenes which stole the show.
January 27, 2010
Sergei Parajanov's deceptively simple 1964 classic got him blacklisted from Soviet cinema and is probably one of the most striking films to come from that national tradition (which is saying something).The story concerns lovers Ivanko and Marichka from childhood, when their friendship and growing love is overshadowed by Ivanko's father's death--killed by Marichka's father--to Marichka's tragic death and Ivanko's subsequent grief and marriage to Palanga, who he doesn't love (the latter turns to witchcraft in an attempt to win him over). It sounds simple enough, and to some extent it is, as there's not a great deal of dialogue, and many of the characters' emotions and conflicts are conveyed through Parajanov's near-documentary portrayal of their rural lifestyle (they're Hutsuls of the Carpathian fringes of southwestern Ukraine, a border region that shifted several times between Poland, the Ottomans, the Austrian Empire, and Russia). This visual simplicity makes the rare directorial "flourishes"--stark contrasts of color, brief freeze-frames--all the more remarkable, and Parajanov switches between color and monochrome (as I thought, to underline Ivanko's deteriorating condition) in a way that reminded me of another Russian film titan that would come out only a couple of years later, Andrei Tarkovsky's ANDREI RUBLEV. A poetic gem with a surprisingly accessible running time, SHADOWS is definitely one to seek out.
November 7, 2009
one of the best work of cinema.
October 27, 2009
lagrimas nos olhos, de tanta beleza.
½ September 12, 2009
Ukrainian man's life goes downhill after his childhood sweetheart dies. Paradzhanov movie tells an unremarkable story, but is richly filmed.
August 18, 2009
They may be my forgotten ancestors, but I have no idea what they're up to at least half the time in this delirious film, like ethnohistory according to David Lynch. Better left forgotten then.
½ August 12, 2009
Think of the most vibrant, colourful love story you could imagine, now add some ridiculously energetic camera movements, folk songs, black magic and you will get a decent idea of this film. There is so much flair and energy running through it, you wonder if your TV can hold it all in. It's a real shame that Parajanov was imprisoned for so long, he could have made so many more films than he did, but he was still loved and revered by almost every major director in his time, and he was greatly mourned when he passed away.
Back to the film, a young boy falls in love with a girl, but her father kills his father. Despite this, they still love each other and the film develops from there, keeping the young boy as the main protagonist as he grows older. There is almost too much energy, too much colour in this film it's quite hard to take it all in. But if you can find it, it is one of the most unique film-going experiences out there. I will definitely try to check out his other 3 films.
August 2, 2009
The Carpathian Mountains, God-forgotten place... well, if the Almighty has really seen what I have, no wonder He turned His back on them. Impossible to rate it. Not worth my time. Not recommended.
June 30, 2009
Visually intoxicating and thematically engrossing.
Parajanov is a master!
June 11, 2009
Involving drama immersed in myth, tragedy, and magic. Very good use of editing, color, mood.
March 22, 2009
Singular and well-informed folk tale from Middle Ages Ukraine. Effortlessly surreal in a manner only really possible ingenuine pagan folk tales that today's post modernists can only fantasize about. Poetically magic imagery battering at the creative boundaries of the medium
½ March 12, 2009
has some cool stuff going on, but gets to draggin'
½ January 28, 2009
A moving story about love and loss alla Paradjanov.
December 23, 2008
Recommended by Eric, magnolia11883.
December 6, 2008
A gem of cinematic creativity and heart-wrenching romantic color. Movement in the midst of the reality of life's pain and the tragedy of love destroyed by fate.

An amazing work.
October 29, 2008
Everything about this movie just offended my senses... in a way it was interesting, and as an allegorical tale about the USSR I enjoy it, but the acting and camera work were terrible... I felt like I was watching a B movie that I couldn't laugh openly at.
½ October 8, 2008
The cinematography in this film is stunning. There are so many great shots, and I love the way the camera just flows with the characters. The story is heartbreaking; watching the character trying to go through life while still haunted by the death of his one true love.
September 25, 2008
PAN AND SCAN. Su genuino sentido de lo épico y la capacidad para encontrar belleza en el folclor y lo costumbrista dan vida a esta película, que contiene tantos elementos burdos como sublimes, tediosos como fascinantes. Otro mérito es su habilidad para ser soviética sin ser propagandista. / Its genuine sense of epic and its capacity to find beauty in folklore and everyday customs give life to this film, which includes elements both coarse and sublime, tedious and fascinating. Another merit is its ability to be soviet but not propagandistic.
½ September 17, 2008
An incredibly rare screening of Parajanov's film, part of the 'Today is the Tomorrow of Yesterday' season at the BFI Southbank, which focuses on erasure. In this case, the erasure of love, culture and ultimately life. Until this point, Parajanov had made a number of pro-Soviet propaganda films and was considered a safe director. This reputation changed for good with 'Shadows of Our Forgotten Ancestors', a film that was commissioned as nothing more than a love story in the Romeo and Juliet style, but ultimately became a celebration of Ukranian culture, specifically that of the Hutsul culture in the Carpathian mountains. This culture had been practically destroyed by the time the film was made, so reviving it obviously was something the authorities were going to take issue with given the promotion of a homogeneous Soviet identity. Parajanov's difficulties with the authorities would increase when he made 'The Colour of Pomegranates' four years later, a film I recently reviewed. In many ways 'Shadows of Our Forgotten Ancestors' can be seen as something of a dty run, where his interest in looking into minority cultures and aesthetic radicalism would take greater shape.

Set during the 1860s (the first was partly made to commemorate the centenary of Mykhailo Mykhailovych Kotsiubynsky's birth), Parajanov starts with an absolutely breathtaking scene of a tree falling, killing a man. Starting with an overhead shot, the camera then follows the point of view of the falling tree. And this is one crucial difference between this film and 'The Colour of Pomegranates'. This film favours very athletic camerawork, also seen in a 360 degree shot circling two lovers later - all thanks to the efforts of DoP Yuri Illienko. This contrasts with the long takes and lack of camera movement in 'The Colour of Pomegranates'. What follows is a tale of warring families. Ivan's father is killed by Marichka's father in another superbly shot scene - as the fatal blow is struck, the blood literally spills onto the lens, and the two children (played by Ivan Mikolajchuk and Larisa Kadochnikova as adults) soon fall in love. Set to marry, tragedy strikes when Marichka accidentally drowns. Grief-stricken, Ivan becomes a hermit, but later marries Palagna (Tatyana Bestayeva), though this is an uneasy union since Ivan is evidently haunted by and in love with Marichka, and is inevitably destined for a tragic end.

Aspects of 'Shadows of Our Forgotten Ancestors' seem to be filmed as if Parajanov was showing the customs and traditions of this community in documentary fashion. It certainly would come as no surprise to learn that non-professionals were used as Parajanov meticulously documents these customs. The spiritual values of the Hutsul community seem to be a careful mish-mash of Christian and Pagan rituals. Just look at Ivan and Palagna's wedding, which is performed in traditional Hutsul fashion, with the bride and groom blindfolded and yoked together. Every festival has its own rituals, and as well as this, there's the local sorcerer, whom everyone allegedly has a need for. Palagna herself practices black magic in order to fall pregnant. This black magic at work is another of Parajanov's technical flourishes; there's an evident change in the elements (storms, winds), flashes and freeze frames, as well as a tree spontaneously combusting. Although the film has a more conventional narrative than 'The Colour of Pomegranates' as well as great aesthetic imagination, it doesn't have the same mind-blowing effect that the latter has. An artist incredibly singular in his vision, Parajanov's films have impressed me on certain levels but I've not been totally won over just yet.
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