Shadows of Our Forgotten Ancestors (1964, Sergei Parajanov)

Supposed to be the first great work by Para(d)janov, whose other work I haven’t seen yet.

young Ivan:

Film is divided into sections. At the end of each one the world turns red, then a bold title card introduces the next. Time is fluid here, sometimes passing slowly, sometimes quickly, and it’s hard to tell how much of it has passed… this is because Parajanov refuses to film anything that is not awesome for purpose of story or character clarification. This is a cine-poem, a work of art, not even the same medium as the David Schwimmer and Jim Carrey and Neil Marshall movies playing in theaters right now.

grown Ivan discovering Marichka’s body:

Only a minute into the film we have a shot from a falling tree’s POV. Later, we see naked children, multiple axe-fights, a long-take shot travelling from a giant raft over an unseen bridge onto shore. Vodka. No sex, but suggested sex. A sorcerer and voodoo dolls, many deaths.


Story is divided in half. When he is young, Ivan(ko)’s brother and father are killed in the same week, he meets a girl (Marichka, daughter of his father’s killer), they grow up in love but she drowns before they can wed. Second half, Ivan is depressed, brightens up enough to marry Palagna, then goes back to being depressed. She just wants to be rid of him, eventually gets her wish.

Actually sounds kind of depressing, but it is so beautifully told (and Ivan meets Marichka in a death dream at the finale, so it’s sort of a happy ending), a pleasure to watch.

Marichka reborn:

There was a movie a few years later, The White Bird Marked with Black, directed by this film’s cinematographer, with the same lead actress (Marichka), written-scored-and-starring our Ivanko.

One tiny little complaint: I wish movies would not blatantly show characters biting into apples when they are about to give in to temptation.