THE LIGHTHOUSE (Mariya Saakyan, 2006)

Considering how richly her Russian Mayak is imbued with a woman’s sensibility, I am perplexed that Armenian-born Mariya Saakyan believes that “differences” between female and male filmmakers are “disappearing.” The Caucasus wars compelled her childhood family’s move to Moscow, where Saakyan studied film, and Mayak draws upon her vivid memories of civilians living at risk in a war zone.
     Lena, the haunted protagonist, now returns to Armenia to try to persuade her elderly grandparents also to move to Moscow; but Lena finds her family feelings and willingness to share their danger drawing her more easily into the world of her grandparents than their capacity to exchange the home of a lifetime for a foreign place and a sudden new adventure. Ultimately, though, Lena also must “go home,” to Moscow, a refugee from reality.
     It is ironic, then, that Saakyan initially likens Lena’s Armenian visit to an adult’s waking Alice-in-Wonderland experience. War is the rabbit-hole.
     Directing from a fine script credited to Givi Shavgulidze, Saakyan creates in her first feature the paradox and oxymoron of a lyrical epic. (Compare Elia Kazan’s failure to achieve this with America, America, 1963.) Hers is an elegiac vision of a peasant village on the brink of extinction. It is a cry out against the sorrows and tragedies that have marked Armenian history. Quiet lives have been jolted into the late twentieth century amidst voluminous mists and a perpetually gray sky, which a mass of birds may, at any second, spring into and flood, fueled by explosive fear, discombobulation. (In one shot, they appear as shadows: the ghosts of birds.) Similarly, the film’s style is diffuse—the formal embodiment of a disintegrating realm. (The superb color cinematographer is Maksim Drozdov.) Among the directorial influences are four men: Kusturíca, Angelopoulos, Tarkovsky, Sokurov.

B(U)Y THE BOOK

MY BOOK, A Short Chronology of World Cinema, IS CURRENTLY AVAILABLE FROM THE SANDS FILMS CINEMA CLUB IN LONDON. USING EITHER OF THE LINKS BELOW, ACCESS THE ADVERTISEMENT FOR THIS BOOK, FROM WHICH YOU CAN ORDER ONE OR MORE COPIES OF IT. THANKS.

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Dennis+Grunes&x=14&y=16

http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Dennis+Grunes&x=14&y=19

Advertisement

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s