The Event Screen 14 articles

The Event


The Event Poster
  • As is Loznitsa’s method, we are witnessing seismic history from the street, and as with Maidan this means several things. First, we are thrust into the middle of the crowd, buffeted hither and thither, and this often makes it difficult to get our bearings. This is entirely intentional, and goes hand in hand with the second element of The Event: we are witnessing confusion in action.

  • Offhand and minor by design, the footage collected in The Event still probably qualifies as a major resources on the atrocious perms, math-teacher mustaches, owlish glasses, and windbreaker jackets that defined the Soviet Union in its final years.

  • The film has an astonishing urgency, and it’s often only the hairdos and the somewhat rough-and-ready clothes - the last flush of Soviet-era austerity - that remind us we’re looking a full quarter century into the past. That realisation makes the film unbearably poignant.

  • It ends finally inside the apparatus, as we see the government archives being sealed away from what the participants assume will be meddlers and erasers of history. But then Loznitsa cuts to black and a title card explaining the charges this evidence contains have never been brought, that most in power during the Soviet era continued to be in power afterwards. And so, indeed, Maidan, taking place almost 20 years later, feels like it could be a sequel to this film, beginning the very next day.

  • The images and the cause they capture are stirring in energy and clarity of purpose, but Loznitsa’s ever so slight aural additions (utilizing the main theme from Swan Lake to punctuate each movement) and disjunctions (offsetting sounds and voices across the mix) lend the film an elegiac air, subtly acknowledging the retroactive developments which saw such passionate acts give way to another, equally unfortunate era of oppression.

  • While Gagnon’s choices [in Of the North] are so evident and forceful, Loznitsa’s are far less so; and instead of whipping us from one place/mode/aesthetic to another, he’s rooting us in a very specific time and place. Such fidelity to the archival footage becomes all the more impressive when you realize that, even though he’s fluidly transported us to that historical moment, Loznitsa hasn’t really made a film about August 1991. He’s made a film about right now.

  • It’s not national destiny that’s been thrown to chance, but the people’s perceptions of it on the ground, leavening the protests with an unbearable tension. But this doesn’t mean Loznitsa is anything short of acutely aware of the security state’s slow victory lap in the interceding quarter-century (watch for the Putin cameo!).

  • The Event shows a nation on the move, on the brink of a historical precipice, using only found footage and arranged in a manner that stresses the artificial nature of the process, and its cool and ghostly beauty, with a glimpse of a younger Putin already in the thick of the action.

  • The clear black-and-white images make for a ripe contrast with the heroicizing color wide shots of Loznitsa’s Maidan, though there’s a similar Battle of Chile sense of spontaneity. As Communist rule enters its death throes, the people on screen are left to contemplate what the future might or should be, and it’s like seeing the lights turned suddenly on after darkness.

  • In its timelessness the film unfolds our very notions of context itself as object for negotiation. Structured and accompanied by Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake the event of an uprising unfolds as a universal motif, pointing to its recurrence and disappearance throughout history while articulating singular moments in itself.

  • If anything, this accumulation of found footage that I’ve browsed through during my week in Rotterdam started at times to feel too immediate, too familiar, too much like a daily Facebook scroll and unlike a prompt for greater clarity. Ukrainian director Serghei Loznitsa’s The Event came as a welcome disruption. Although the technique is the same, it inherently produces historical distancing by showing archival images shot in Saint Petersburg in August 1991...

  • Rigorously sticking to its fixed-camera aesthetic even as the police open fire on protesters mere yards from the filmmakers, it’s a powerful in seeing-as-material-resistance that rises above typical protest films by integrating the act of filmmaking itself—when the camera moves, it’s to save the life of its operator.

  • Loznitsa uses footage captured by eight cameramen covering protests of the failed 1991 putsch against Mikhail Gorbachev’s Soviet government to take a delicately affecting frieze of lost Russian optimism. When Putin pops up, waves of present tragedy rush through the material.

  • Every edit in The Event is the filmmaker’s own; which is to say, formally, it is an achievement in itself. To have cut and shaped this narrative with such skill, from raw material shot by others, Loznitsa drew upon his experience in making his two previous archive-based pictures.

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