Tengiz Abuladze


(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

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(Translated by Kathy Ushiba)

Tengiz Abuladze led the post-war film renaissance in Georgia.

Zurdra Magdany (1956) and Cuzie Deti (1958) retold regional folklore stories using an almost neorealistic approach.

Ja, babuka, ilikò i illarion (1963): lively portrait of the Caucasus during its high point of the 20th century. The film hilariously captures a patriotic spirit and religious nostalgia. Although the film was made along the lines of Neorealism when filmmaking returned back to dramas centered around real people, the film's lyrical register is specific to his regional tradition.

Molba/A Prayer (1968), the first of Abuladze's trilogy (ends with "Repentance") is perhaps his most poetic, romantic, philosophical, and experimental film. The film which thoroughly narrates the feud among opposing religious tribes in the Caucasus Mountains is filled with symbolism; the woman in white perhaps represents human ambition, and the men driven to succeed are apprehensive at the same time. The film has a strong Shakespearean tone:

Somebody is praying to his god. The camera shows a man sitting in a Buddha-like position against a wall of rock. As the man keeps praying god to imbue him with goodness, the camera moves up the gigantic wall until it reaches for the sky. There's a girl in white walking through the tall grass. An old warrior too. They all pray. The warrior gets on his knees in front of the girl, as she warms up her hands by the fire. A fat, ugly, semi-naked joker hides in the shade. The warrior curses him but the joker is not afraid. The joker scorns life, the warrior ponders the vanity of human ambition. The joker lusts for the pure girl. The girl speaks and leaves. The warrior asks a wise old man for the meaning of life.
The action shifts to a medieval village in the mountains, its wall full of severed hands. Aluda is the local hero, revered by the old men of this Christian tribe. He rides the valleys and kills the enemies of the village. An ancient tradition wants him to cut the hands of his victims. But this time he can't severe the hand of a Muslim who fights bravely after Aluda has killed his brother. Aluda returns to the village without the hands of the brothers and even sacrifices a bull for the courageous enemy. The camera indulges on the pagan-christian ceremony. The old men of the village show contempt for his action and his attitude and send him into exile with his family.
Back to the first scene: bones fall from the sky in front of the old warrior. The warrior sees the procession of the dead, all dressed up as they were before they were buried. Then he witnesses the funeral of a powerful man: even he succumbed to death. The pensive warrior realizes the power of death. He tells how his house was burned down and the neighbors simply watched without helping. Only a woman in white tried to help, but she burned with the house, unseen by anybody. Only ashes and a phantom were left.
Back in the mountains, two hunters meet: one is Johola, a member of the Muslim tribe, and the other one is a member of the Christian tribe. The noble and generous Johola offers the Christian hospitality for the night. They reach the tall towers of the Muslism village. But the old men of the village want revenge for the killing of the two brothers. Johola wants to defend his guest, but eventually the old men prevail (we hear them speaking but we don't see their lips moving). They drag the Christian to a nearby hill where his throat is slit. A woman cries, ashamed of her own people. The procession returns to the village in a somber mood, and the woman comes back to cry on the dead man's body (but his sent away by the ghosts of the murdered brothers).
The joker and the girl in white are getting married in a pompous ceremony. The warrior is in the forest, caught in a storm of petals while children run through the trees. A crowd of creeps and blind men walks in a street and is attacked by police. Men, spread all over the mountain, are digging graves in the snow. In a Dali-like scene, they erect the gallows and hang the girl in white.
Back to the very first scene: the man sitting like a Buddha prays by the giant wall of rock.
The story is basically one of a feud between mountain tribes of different religions. It is a symbol of what the white woman represents: human folly and ambition. They all have to die anyway, as the warrior ponders.

Ozerele Dlja Mobj Ljubimos (1971) is an action drama which is between a Picaresque saga and a legend but has a surprise ending that unmasks cinematographic fiction. A young couple cannot marry because the girl's parents are against the marriage. However, the young man who refuses to give up returns home from a long journey and brings the gift that wins him his beloved: the gift is the screenplay of the film itself.

Drevo Zelany (1977) emphasizes the experimental character of images that transform the poetic legend into supernatural hallucinations. Set in a rural community in the 1800's, the film tells of a girl's tragic love for her old flame. Wed against her will to a rich landowner, the girl is caught in the act with her previous love interest and is condemned to parade along the streets of the village on a mule. Defending the girl are solely the mentally insane and those living on the fringes of society who are the only ones capable of dreaming of a better world. Abuladze little by little moves away from Caucasian folklore and fills the film with academic aspects and pictorial inventions.

Pkayaniye (1987), a lyrical and dreamlike piece of history. A woman denounces the crimes committed by a now deceased evil mayor who was buried with full honors. When alive the mayor had the woman's painter father deported and the woman's mother arrested. The politicians cover up the woman's denouncement, but the dead mayor's nephew affected by the woman's revelations commits suicide, and the mayor's son digs up his father's corpse and throws it into pig feed. A metaphor on Stalin.

Tengiz Abuladze guidò nel Dopoguerra la rinascita georgiana.

Zurdra Magdany (1956) e Cuzie Deti (1958) riproposero il folklore regionale con un approccio quasi neorealista.

Ja, babuka, ilikò i illarion (1963), quadretto fresco e vivace della provincia caucasica al principio del secolo, fatto di spirito patriottico, religiosità nostalgia e comicità, segue la parabola del neorealismo verso la commedia paesana, ma secondo un registro lirico proprio della sua tradizione.

Molba/ A Prayer (1968), il primo film della trilogia che finisce con Repentance, e` forse il suo film al tempo stesso piu` poetico, romantico, filosofico e sperimentale. Il film, che sostanzialmente narra il feudo fra tribu` di religioni opposte nelle montagne del Caucaso, e` intriso di simbolismo: la donna in bianco rappresenta forse l'ambizione umana, che gli uomini ambiscono e temono al tempo stesso. Il film ha un forte tono shakespeariano.

Somebody is praying to his god. The camera shows a man sitting in a Buddha-like position against a wall of rock. As the man keeps praying god to imbue him with goodness, the camera moves up the gigantic wall until it reaches for the sky. There's a girl in white walking through the tall grass. An old warrior too. They all pray. The warrior gets on his knees in front of the girl, as she warms up her hands by the fire. A fat, ugly, semi-naked joker hides in the shade. The warrior curses him but the joker is not afraid. The joker scorns life, the warrior ponders the vanity of human ambition. The joker lusts for the pure girl. The girl speaks and leaves. The warrior asks a wise old man for the meaning of life.
The action shifts to a medieval village in the mountains, its wall full of severed hands. Aluda is the local hero, revered by the old men of this Christian tribe. He rides the valleys and kills the enemies of the village. An ancient tradition wants him to cut the hands of his victims. But this time he can't severe the hand of a Muslim who fights bravely after Aluda has killed his brother. Aluda returns to the village without the hands of the brothers and even sacrifices a bull for the courageous enemy. The camera indulges on the pagan-christian ceremony. The old men of the village show contempt for his action and his attitude and send him into exile with his family.
Back to the first scene: bones fall from the sky in front of the old warrior. The warrior sees the procession of the dead, all dressed up as they were before they were buried. Then he witnesses the funeral of a powerful man: even he succumbed to death. The pensive warrior realizes the power of death. He tells how his house was burned down and the neighbors simply watched without helping. Only a woman in white tried to help, but she burned with the house, unseen by anybody. Only ashes and a phantom were left.
Back in the mountains, two hunters meet: one is Johola, a member of the Muslim tribe, and the other one is a member of the Christian tribe. The noble and generous Johola offers the Christian hospitality for the night. They reach the tall towers of the Muslism village. But the old men of the village want revenge for the killing of the two brothers. Johola wants to defend his guest, but eventually the old men prevail (we hear them speaking but we don't see their lips moving). They drag the Christian to a nearby hill where his throat is slit. A woman cries, ashamed of her own people. The procession returns to the village in a somber mood, and the woman comes back to cry on the dead man's body (but his sent away by the ghosts of the murdered brothers).
The joker and the girl in white are getting married in a pompous ceremony. The warrior is in the forest, caught in a storm of petals while children run through the trees. A crowd of creeps and blind men walks in a street and is attacked by police. Men, spread all over the mountain, are digging graves in the snow. In a Dali-like scene, they erect the gallows and hang the girl in white.
Back to the very first scene: the man sitting like a Buddha prays by the giant wall of rock.
The story is basically one of a feud between mountain tribes of different religions. It is a symbol of what the white woman represents: human folly and ambition. They all have to die anyway, as the warrior ponders.
Traduzione di Emanuele Carrafa: Qualcuno sta pregando Dio. La cinepresa mostra un uomo seduto con le spalle contro un muro di pietra in una posizione simile a quella del Buddha. Mentre l'uomo continua a pregare Dio di poter essere pieno di bont…, la cinepresa si alza lungo il muro gigantesco fino a raggiungere il cielo. C'Š una ragazza vestita di bianco che cammina attraverso la fitta vegetazione. c'Š anche un vecchio guerriero. Tutti pregano. Il guerriero si mette in ginocchio di fronte alla ragazza, mentre lei si scalda le mani vicino al fuoco. Un individuo grasso, brutto e seminudo si nasconde nell'ombra. Il guerriero lo maledice ma il tizio non ha paura. Egli disprezza la vita, mentre il guerriero contempla la vanit… dell'ambizione dell'uomo. L'individuo desidera la ragazza pura. La giovane parla e se ne va. Il guerriero chiede ad un vecchio saggio qual Š il significato della vita. L'azione si sposta ad un villaggio medievale tra le montagne, alle mura piene di mani recise. Aluda Š l'eroe locale, onorato dagli anziani di questa trib— cristiana. Egli galoppa per le valli e uccide i nemici del villaggio. Un'antica tradizione vuole che tagli le mani alle sue vittime. Ma questa volta non pu• tagliare quelle di un mussulmano che combatte coraggiosamente dopo che Aruda ha ucciso suo fratello. Aruda ritorna al villaggio senza le mani dei due fratelli e sacrifica persino un toro in onore del coraggioso nemico. La cinepresa indulge sulla cerimonia pagano-cristiana. I vecchi del villaggio mostrano disprezzo per questo suo gesto e per la sua indole e lo esiliano con la sua famiglia. Si ritorna alla prima scena: dal cielo cadono delle ossa davanti al vecchio guerriero. Egli vede la processione dei morti, tutti agghindati cosŤ com'erano prima di essere tumulati. Poi Š testimone del funerale di un uomo potente: persino questi soccombe alla morte. Il guerriero pensieroso comprende la potenza della morte. Egli racconta di come la sua casa sia stata incendiata e di come i suoi vicini avessero assistito alla scena senza intervenire. Solo una donna vestita di bianco aveva cercato di aiutarlo, ma era morta nel rogo della casa, inosservata. Erano rimasti solo la cenere e un fantasma. Si torna tra le montagne, due cacciatori si incontrano: uno Š Jahola, un membro della trib— di mussulmani, e l'altro Š un membro di quella dei cristiani. Il nobile e generoso Jahola offre ospitalit… al cristiano per la notte. Insieme raggiungono le alte torri del villaggio mussulmano. Ma gli anziani del villaggio vogliono vendetta per i due fratelli uccisi. Jahola vuole difendere il suo ospite, ma alla fine gli anziani hanno la meglio (li sentiamo parlare ma non vediamo le loro labbra muoversi). Trascinano il cristiano fino ad una collina lŤ vicino dove gli viene tagliata la gola. Una donna scoppia in lacrime, per la vergonga che sente nei confronti della sua stessa gente. La processione fa ritorno al villaggio con un umore nero, e la donna torna a piangere sul corpo dell'uomo morto (ma viene scacciata dai fantasmi dei fratelli uccisi). L'individuo e la ragazza in bianco si stanno sposando con una cerimonia fastosa. Il guerriero Š nella foresta, circondato da un turbinio di petali mentre dei bambini corrono tra gli alberi. Una folla di uomini deformi e ciechi cammina per strada e viene attaccata dalla polizia. Uomini, sparsi tutt'intorno alla montagna, stanno scavando tombe nella neve. In una scena simile ad un dipinto di DalŤ, erigono un patibolo ed impiccano la ragazza vestita di bianco. Si ritorna alla primissima scena: l'uomo seduto come un Buddha prega vicino al gigantesco muro di pietra. La storia Š fondamentalmente quella di un feudo diviso da trib— di montagna di diverse religioni. E' un simbolo di ci• che la donna "bianca" rappresenta: la follia umana e l'ambizione. In ogni modo tutti devono morire; Š ci• che pu• constatare il guerriero.

Ozerele Dlja Mobj Ljubimos (1971) è una commedia d'azione che pende verso la saga picaresca e la leggenda, ma con un finale a sorpresa che smaschera la finzione cinematografica: due giovani non possono sposarsi perchè i genitori della ragazza sono contrari, ma il ragazzo non si dà per vinto e dal suo lungo viaggio porta a casa il dono che gli frutterà l'amata; il dono e` la sceneggiatura del film stesso.

Drevo zelany (1977) accentua il carattere sperimentale delle immagini, che trasformano la poetica leggendaria in allucinazioni innaturali: ambientato in una comunità rurale dell'Ottocento, racconta il tragico amore di una ragazza, sposata controvoglia a un ricco possidente, per il suo antico spasimante; colta in flagrante, viene condannata a sfilare per le strade del villaggio su un mulo e a difenderla rimangono soltanto i pazzi e gli emarginati, gli unici capaci di sognare un mondo migliore.

Abuladze ha snaturato poco alla volta il folklore caucasico, tempestandolo di accademismi e invenzioni pittoriche.

Pokayaniye (1987), lirico e onirico squarcio di storia: una donna denuncia i crimini commessi in vita dal perfido sindaco, che è appena stato sepolto con tutti gli onori: fece deportare il padre pittore e arrestare la madre della donna; i politici mettono a tacere la denuncia, ma il nipote del morto, sconvolto dalle rivelazioni, si suicida, e il figlio dissotterra il padre e lo getta in un beverone. Metafora su Stalin.

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