Revealing Sergei's Shadows

Wanna know about the best film you've probably never seen? Here's a tip: Put down that intellectually toxic Netflix DVD (particularly if it's the latest Judd Apatow)and get thee to your local art-house theatre. Soviet-Armenian filmmaker Sergei Parajanov's 1964 gem, Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors, is one of those movies that makes a public appearance about every 15 years or so, and it's always worth the wait. It's a haunting masterpiece about forbidden love and tribal disagreements — essentially, a story that's older than the moon and stars. It's also the film that got the intransigent Parajanov banned from the highest echelons of the Soviet cinema establishment, less for overt politicking than for his blatant disavowal of social realism in favor of deliciously dark folkloric themes. It features a rare glimpse into the lives of the seminomadic Hutsul people of the Carpathian mountains and their near-extinct language and customs, mixed in with a flurry of symbols and archetypes that would make a Jungian analyst's head spin. Sorcery, soothsayers, and guttural nature spirits all coalesce to create a strange realm in which beauty becomes a brutal assault on the senses, as Parajanov's gorgeously saturated colors and dizzying camera moves provide a primal power too often missing in today's cinema.
May 8-10, 7:30 p.m., 2008

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