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Adapted from a novel by Ukrainian writer M. Kotsyubinsky, Sergei Paradjanov's extraordinary merging of myth, history, poetry, ethnography, dance, and ritual (1964) remains one of the supreme works of the Soviet sound cinema, and even subsequent Paradjanov features have failed to dim its intoxicating splendors. Set in the harsh and beautiful Carpathian Mountains, the movie tells the story of a doomed love between a couple belonging to feuding families, Ivan and Marichka, and of Ivan's life and marriage after Marichka's death. The plot is affecting, but it serves Paradjanov mainly as an armature to support the exhilarating rush of his lyrical camera movements (executed by master cinematographer Yuri Illyenko), his innovative use of nature and interiors, his deft juggling of folklore and fancy in relation to pagan and Christian rituals, and his astonishing handling of color and music. A film worthy of Dovzhenko, whose poetic vision of Ukrainian life is frequently alluded to. In Ukrainian with subtitles. 100 min.

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