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Discovering Georgian Cinema

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Discovering Georgian Cinema

Friday, October 17, 2014
8:30 p.m. Molba
Tengiz Abuladze (USSR, 1967)

One of the great films from Georgia and the USSR, Molba was made in 1967 but held up for foreign showings for several years as the result of attacks from “official critics” who considered that it lacked proper social consciousness. In 1975, it was featured at the London Film Festival, where Brian Baxter noted: “It has been worth the wait, since it is—quite surely—a masterpiece and one of the most strikingly original and beautiful films ever made. It is a comparatively short work, shot in the deepest blacks and almost blinding whites, tightly compressing its complex tale of love, hate, and revenge. The screenplay is taken from (two epic poems by Vasa Psavela) overlaid onto the soundtrack with a fine musical score, and supplements the sparse dialogue. Abuladze has managed to convey the ‘epic’ quality of the piece by superb use of the harsh landscapes and the integration of the characters within the surroundings. The central figure—Mindy—is a tragic, isolated figure at war with evil, in both specific and general terms. But what one finally remembers about the film is not the story, the adventure, or the moments of tenderness, but the overwhelming images: the use of shadows, the riders stumbling over rocky terrain, the girl in the shimmering white dress heading towards camera, the ritualistic hanging, the dreams and their confusion with reality.”

• Written by Arcil Salukvadze, R. Kveselava, Abuladze, based on poems by Vaza Psavela. Photographed by Aleksandr Antipenko. With Ramaz Chkhikvadze, Spartak Bagashvili, Rusudan Kiknadze, Otar Megvinetukhutsesi. (80 mins, In Georgian with English subtitles, B&W, 35mm, From MoMA)