Tengiz Abuladze

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7.3 Vedreba/ Molba/ The Plea (1967)
7.0 The Wishing Tree (1976)
7.0 Repentance (1984)

(Translated by Kathy Ushiba, Piero Scaruffi and DeepL from my original Italian text)

Tengiz Abuladze led the post-war film renaissance in Georgia.

Magdanas Lurja/ Lurja Magdany/ Magdana's Donkey (1956), co-directed with Rezo Chkheidze, and Skhvisi Shvilebi/ Chuzhie Dzetsi/ Other People's Children (1958) retold regional folklore stories using an almost neorealistic approach.

Me, Bebia, Iliko da Ilarioni/ Ia, Babushka, Iliko i Ilarion/ Me, Grandma, Iliko and Ilarioni (1962): lively portrait of the Caucasus during its high point of the 20th century. The film hilariously captures a patriotic spirit and religious nostalgia. Although the film was made along the lines of Neorealism when filmmaking returned back to dramas centered around real people, the film's lyrical register is specific to his regional tradition.

Vedreba/ Molba/ The Plea (1967), adapted from two poems by Vaza Psavela,, the first of Abuladze's trilogy (ends with "Repentance") is perhaps his most poetic, romantic, philosophical, and experimental film. The film which thoroughly narrates the feud among opposing religious tribes in the Caucasus Mountains is filled with symbolism; the woman in white perhaps represents human ambition, and the men driven to succeed are apprehensive at the same time. The film has a strong Shakespearean tone:

Somebody is praying to his god. The camera shows a man sitting in a Buddha-like position against a wall of rock. As the man keeps praying god to imbue him with goodness, the camera moves up the gigantic wall until it reaches for the sky. There's a girl in white walking through the tall grass. An old warrior too. They all pray. The warrior gets on his knees in front of the girl, as she warms up her hands by the fire. A fat, ugly, semi-naked joker hides in the shade. The warrior curses him but the joker is not afraid. The joker scorns life, the warrior ponders the vanity of human ambition. The joker lusts for the pure girl. The girl speaks and leaves. The warrior asks a wise old man for the meaning of life.
The action shifts to a medieval village in the mountains, its wall full of severed hands. Aluda is the local hero, revered by the old men of this Christian tribe. He rides the valleys and kills the enemies of the village. An ancient tradition wants him to cut the hands of his victims. But this time he can't severe the hand of a Muslim who fights bravely after Aluda has killed his brother. Aluda returns to the village without the hands of the brothers and even sacrifices a bull for the courageous enemy. The camera indulges on the pagan-christian ceremony. The old men of the village show contempt for his action and his attitude and send him into exile with his family.
Back to the first scene: bones fall from the sky in front of the old warrior. The warrior sees the procession of the dead, all dressed up as they were before they were buried. Then he witnesses the funeral of a powerful man: even he succumbed to death. The pensive warrior realizes the power of death. He tells how his house was burned down and the neighbors simply watched without helping. Only a woman in white tried to help, but she burned with the house, unseen by anybody. Only ashes and a phantom were left.
Back in the mountains, two hunters meet: one is Johola, a member of the Muslim tribe, and the other one is a member of the Christian tribe. The noble and generous Johola offers the Christian hospitality for the night. They reach the tall towers of the Muslism village. But the old men of the village want revenge for the killing of the two brothers. Johola wants to defend his guest, but eventually the old men prevail (we hear them speaking but we don't see their lips moving). They drag the Christian to a nearby hill where his throat is slit. A woman cries, ashamed of her own people. The procession returns to the village in a somber mood, and the woman comes back to cry on the dead man's body (but his sent away by the ghosts of the murdered brothers).
The joker and the girl in white are getting married in a pompous ceremony. The warrior is in the forest, caught in a storm of petals while children run through the trees. A crowd of creeps and blind men walks in a street and is attacked by police. Men, spread all over the mountain, are digging graves in the snow. In a Dali-like scene, they erect the gallows and hang the girl in white.
Back to the very first scene: the man sitting like a Buddha prays by the giant wall of rock.
The story is basically one of a feud between mountain tribes of different religions. It is a symbol of what the white woman represents: human folly and ambition. They all have to die anyway, as the warrior ponders.

Samkauli Satrposatvis/ Ozerele Dlja Mobj Ljubimos/ A Necklace for My Beloved (1971) is an action drama which is between a picaresque saga and a legend but has a surprise ending that unmasks cinematographic fiction. A young couple cannot marry because the girl's parents are against the marriage. However, the young man who refuses to give up returns home from a long journey and brings the gift that wins him his beloved: the gift is the screenplay of the film itself.

Natris Khe/ Drevo Zhelanii/ The Wishing Tree (1976) emphasizes the experimental character of images that transform the poetic legend into supernatural hallucinations. Set in a rural community in the 1800's, the film tells of a girl's tragic love for her old flame. Wed against her will to a rich landowner, the girl is caught in the act with her previous love interest and is condemned to parade along the streets of the village on a mule. Defending the girl are solely the mentally insane and those living on the fringes of society who are the only ones capable of dreaming of a better world. Abuladze little by little moves away from Caucasian folklore and fills the film with academic aspects and pictorial inventions.

Abuladze criticized the Soviet dictatorships with the allegorical Monanieba/ Repentance (1984).

Pkayaniye (1987) is a lyrical and dreamlike piece of history. A woman denounces the crimes committed by a now deceased evil mayor who was buried with full honors. When alive the mayor had the woman's painter father deported and the woman's mother arrested. The politicians cover up the woman's denouncement, but the dead mayor's nephew affected by the woman's revelations commits suicide, and the mayor's son digs up his father's corpse and throws it into pig feed. A metaphor on Stalin.

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