Thursday, May 14, 2015
Konstantin Lopushansky - Gadkie lebedi aka The Ugly Swans (2006)
Based on the novel of the same title by the Strugatsky brothers
"Konstantin Lopushansky was a student of classic Soviet director Andrei Tarkovsky, and master's influence is highly visible in "The Ugly Swans" -- not just as a ghost in the background, but as full-fledged foreground presence. Which is not to deny Lopushansky his originality. More than anything, it's a sign of a certain artistic style being handed down over the generations... The film is ...aesthetically outstanding and emotionally moody in a way that's very hard to gauge... Tarkovsky would have been proud." (Tom Birchenough, "The Moscow Times")
Victor Banev, a Russian writer now living in America, is seeking his daughter, Ira, in the expanse of his former homeland. Banev's ultimate destination is a remote Siberian town of Tashlinsk, where military forces are now in control after some sort of unexplained catastrophe.
In a city of Tashlinsk, mysterious circumstances have led to non-stop rainfall and the appearance of eerie characters called 'mokretsy' (the Wet Ones, or “Aquatters”), who are either aliens or mutants, and who generate a special energy barrier to protect themselves from or to prevent communication with undesirable human specimens.
The mokretsy appeal to gifted children who in the past had been in a special boarding school in Tashlinsk. And amongst them is Victor Banev’s daughter. Under the keen supervision of the mokretsy, the gifted kids are gradually transformed into a cadre of twisted mental geniuses with seemingly no humanity, no attachments or sentimentalities. And if indeed "Truth comes from the mouths of babes...", what we, mere mortals, should do if we simply cannot accept this Truth? ...And so, the confrontation unfolds.
The imagery of light, sound, and plasticity is exquisite. The scenery is eerily lit in dominating red tints as the rain pours down everywhere, the entire time. The brilliant musical score, recorded before the shooting to inspire the makers, comes from Andrei Sigle, Alexander Sokurov's regular composer.
It is not a thriller. It is not an ecological warning.
Some may find it visionary, others infuriating.
It is philosophical sci-fi, highly atmospheric and beautiful, created in the best arthouse tradition.
Subtitles:English build-in subtitles