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SHADOWS OF FORGOTTEN ANCESTORS (Tini zabutykh predkiv) (director/writer: Sergei Paradjanov; screenwriters: Ivan Chendej/based on a story by Mikhaylo Koysyubinskiy; cinematographers: Viktor Bestayev/Yuri Ilyenko; editor: M. Ponomarenko; music: Miroslav Skorik; cast: Ivan Mikolaichuk (Ivan), Larissa Kadochnikova (Marichka), Tatiana Bestaeva (Palagna), Spartak Bagashvili (Yurko), Nikolai Grinko (Batag), Leonid Yengibarov (Miko), Nina Alisova (Paliychuk), Aleksandr Gaj (Paliychuk), Neonila Gnepovskaya (Gutenyuk), A. Raydanov (Gutenyuk), I. Dzyura (Ivan as a Child), V. Glyanko (Marichka as a Child); Runtime: 95; MPAA Rating: NR; Kino Video; 1964-USSR-in Ukrainian-with English subtitles)
“Ripples with the force of nature.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Filmmaker Sergei Paradjanov (“Andriesh”/”The Color of Pomegranates”/”The Legend of the Surami Fortress”), an Armenian painter, musician and film poet who was born in Soviet Georgia, shuns his previously safe documentaries at age 40 to astonish the world at the 1966 international festival circuit with the showing of this highly imaginative Dionysian film, in the form of a rural folk tale, that ripples with the force of nature and is filled with startling images and colors. The period film came to America in 1967, and shows off the artistic talents of Paradjanov for photographic extravagance and kaleidoscopic camera work. Paradjanov, a homosexual, was periodically jailed and eventually exiled because his increasingly bizarre and dissident work and his homosexuality frightened the Soviet authorities. Paradjanov, along with his good friend Andrei Tarkovsky and the great Soviet filmmaker Dovzhenko, is considered one of the Soviet’s most influential directors.

“Shadows” is based on a fiery Romeo-and-Juliet like story adapted from a novel by the early Ukrainian author Mikhaylo Koysyubinskiy and is set at the mid-19th century in the primitive Carpathian Mountains (the land “forgotten by God and men”), where the featured young peasants dance around nude in the woods and will grow up to be surrounded by adulterers and murderers to become star-crossed lovers. It tells of the strapping young peasant Ivan (Ivan Mikolaichuk), a woodsman and cattle herder, who falls madly in love in childhood with his sultry neighbor Marichka (Larissa Kadochnikova), the daughter of a rich peasant landlord. Unfortunately she’s the daughter of the man (A. Raydanov) responsible for Ivan’s father’s (Aleksandr Gaj) death during a drunken brawl outside of the church. But that doesn’t stop Ivan from knocking Marichka up, and then leaving to get seasonal work in the mountains as a laborer to support his widowed mom (Nina Alisova). While Ivan’s gone, the pregnant Marichka reaches out to save a stray black lamb on a cliff and falls into a nearly frozen river and drowns. This leaves Ivan crestfallen upon his return and he weds on the rebound the lascivious Palagna (Tatyana Bestayeva), who reacts to his increasing drunkenness and neglect by having an affair with the village sorcerer. Which is a bad omen for Ivan, that leads to further tragedy for him.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”