Revenge Screen 6 articles

Revenge

1989

Revenge Poster
  • Never really got a firm handle on what this film is trying to do, frankly. In part, that may just be ignorance—this represents my intro to Shinarbaev, and I'm equally unfamiliar with the Kazakh New Wave in general. But I'm skeptical that more context would materially alter my sense that entire chunks of this multi-part narrative are fundamentally expendable.

  • Using floods of light and splashes of color as a counterpoint to the ugliness of nearly every character’s actions and intent. The result is thoroughly unsettling in its contrasts and, like Akira Kurosawa’s similarly vibrant Ran made just a few years prior, requires a significant amount of historical context in order to fully grasp it implications.

  • Although the film's complex and allegorical composition and atmospherically dense imagery create an indelible viewing experience, the lack of cohesion in several narrative threads (the underformed roles of the teacher's wife and protector, the hero's enlightened teacher and spiritual guide, the elderly woman) encumber the film with a sense of situational ambiguity and frustrating incompletion.

  • As Kent Jones says, Revenge is tough, requiring some background context and an eye for subtle symbolism. But to clarify, it's not tough for being an anomaly, but rather for being an all-encompassing embodiment of the Kazakh New Wave, the Korean diaspora, and a world in transition. Part history, part myth, and part coming-of-age, the story . . . is a metaphor for the blood-stained history that corrupts the natural harmony of the world and the lives of those struggling to survive and belong.

  • What finally gives Revenge its power as a film is its employment of and awed respect for the sheer presence of light, which offsets and finally dissolves the grave momentum of the action. Shinarbaev and the cinematographer, Sergei Kosmanev, have made four films together, all of them visually powerful, but here every image... is _impregnated_ with pure radiance. The film embodies the sense of a benign universe far greater than the rancid confusions of human beings.

  • A Mizoguchi-style dream, a literally glowing piece of folklore that pits beauty against destruction and follows the logic of a fable instead of what "real people" (whoever they are) would do. The most resonant part is how the film chases its folkloric figures across the border into modern times and through the dirty schisms of the 20th century. Cheers to the World Cinema Project for restoring this Kazakh jewel.

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