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FALLING LEAVES (Giorgobistve) (director: Otar Iosseliani; screenwriter: Amiran Chichinadze; cinematographer: Abessalom Maisuradze; editor: Otar Iosseliani; music: N. Ioseliani; cast: Ramaz Giorgobiani (Nico), Marina Kartsivadze (Marina), Gogi Kharabadze (Otari), Aleqsandre Omiadze (Director of wine factory), Baadur Tsuladze (Archili), Dodo Abashidze (Rezo), T. Daushvili (Nodari); Runtime: 91; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: G. Gvenetadze; Facets Video; 1966-USSR-in Georgian with English subtitles)
“The quiet film offers keen observations about workers, romance and bureaucracy.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Otar Iosseliani (“La Chasse Aux Papillons”/”April”/”Pastorale”) is the great poetical filmmaker from Georgia who emigrated to France eventually because of Russian censorship. Falling Leaves is a cautionary tale brilliantly written by Amiran Chichinadze and stunningly photographed in black and white by Abessalom Maisuradze. It’s about an idealistic young worker, Nico (Ramaz Giorgobiani), who begins work as a technician in a state run local winery and runs into Soviet ineptitude and corruption. When ordered by his boss to put his signature to a bad barrel of wine that tastes like vinegar, he refuses. Instead he adds gelatin and lets it settle in for another week, causing a slow down in quota-production. The quiet film offers keen observations about workers, romance and bureaucracy. There’s not one shot that’s out of place; it can be viewed just as a visual experience or as a silent film, as the dialogue is unimportant.

It opens with an appealing documentary prologue showing a happy wine-harvest celebration among a collective farming village. It then has Nico and his neighbor, Otari (Gogi Kharabadze), an ambitious opportunist who is too chicken to rebel and toes the state line by conforming to the mediocrity of the factory. The friends soon drift apart because of their different attitudes, as Nico makes contact with the elderly workers and tries to date the pretty flirtatious winery tour guide Marina (Marina Kartsivadze). But she proves to be a user, who likes to play mind games with the boys and has a thuggish admirer who beats up anyone who tries to see her; on one occasion he gives Nico a black eye.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”