Apr 17, 2010

25th April 2010; The Wishing Tree

The Wishing Tree
A film by Tengiz Abuladze
Country: Russia (Georgia)
Georgian with English subtitles
Run time : 107 min
Year : 1976
25th April 2010; 5.45 pm
Perks Mini Theatre , Perks School (Off Trichy Road)
Call : 94430 39630

Abuladze's film is a magically sustained fantasia about life in a Georgian village on the eve of the revolution, poetry rather than narrative thrust carrying it from one incident to another. The characters are eccentric, and their dreams and longings are gently indulged, from the simpleton who searches for the tree that will fulfill his wishes, to the disheveled lady fortune-teller who promises herself the return of a long-lost lover.

The central focus is a tragic love story (sweethearts denied marriage by the village elders), and this, more than any overtly political points, serves to intimate the social changes to come. Best seen in the original Georgian version (rather than the Russian-dubbed one), with its delicate aural lyricism matching the pictorial splendors
Poetry, vivid imagery and allegory mark the nearly two-dozen episodes of this epic tale about human life and its troubles, set in the Georgian village of Kachetien near the turn of the century. One continuing thread concerns a young woman, in love with one man, who is married off to another by the village elders.
Many vividly drawn and eccentric village characters are portrayed, from simpletons to fortune-tellers, and their dreams reveal what each would consider to be happiness in this life. The well-regarded director of this film, Tengiz Abuladze, was known for his visually sophisticated and symbolically rich works.
The Wishing Tree is the second film in a Georgian trilogy by Abuladze: the first, released in 1969, was Encounter, about the primitivist artist Nikos Piosmani the last, released in 1987, is known as Repentance. The Wishing Tree, based on a tale told in blank verse by Georgi Leonidze, won many prizes: the All-Union Grand Prize, the Prize of Karlovy Vary Film Festival, the State Prize of Georgian Republic, and the David Donatello Prize from Italy, as "Best Foreign Picture."

Tengiz Abuladze

Best known internationally for his allegorical, politically charged film Repentance (1987), Georgian filmmaker and screenwriter Tenghiz Abuladze specialized in carefully crafted films that focused on relationships between people, without moral judgment or sociopolitical analysis.
Abuladze was born in Kutaisi, Georgia, back when the country was a state of the Soviet Union. In the 1940s, he studied at the Shota Rustaveli Theatrical Institute and after graduation decided to study film at the Moscow Film Institute with his close friend Revaz Chkheidze. The two studied under Sergei Yutkevich and Mikhail Romm. Abuladze and Chkheidze graduated in 1952. Their diploma film was a biography of Georgian composer Dimitry Arakishvili. As with his subsequent solo work, Abuladze’s first professional feature, made in collaboration with Chkheidze, centered on Georgian life. A simple tale of a group of children who adopt a charcoal merchant’s lost jackass and then go to court when he wants it back, Magdan’s Donkey earned a special prize for short films at the Cannes Film Festival in 1966. Abuladze’s first solo effort, Chuzhiye Deti/Someone Else’s Children (1958) was a nearly silent affair that provided an insightful, but almost melodramatic look at a Georgian family.

From a technical view, Abuladze was a meticulous craftsman, who laid out his storylines in such great detail that he knew to the subtlest twitch and the finest detail exactly what he wanted from his actors and his production crew. He first gained international prominence in 1978 with highly acclaimed, multi-award-winning The Wishing Tree and in 1980 earned the designation of National Artist of the Soviet Union. By far his most important film was his last, Repentance (1986). Using an almost surrealistic mixture of fantasy, drama, and satire, it is a powerful indictment against totalitarianism in general. It was originally made for Georgian television, but then changed into a feature. Though it was completed in 1984, the Soviet government considered the subject matter too critical and banned it for two years. Repentance was nominated for a “Best Foreign Film” Oscar in 1987. In 1988, Abuladze received the Lenin Prize. Between 1990 and 1991, he served as a member of Soviet Parliament.

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