Have you ever had a dream that was its own world--with its own culture, music, costume, social rules and spiritual mythology? That's what Parajanov's Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors is like.
Set in the Carpathian mountains of the Ukraine, Shadows is a thwarted love story between the children of two rival Hutsul families. Parajanov's camera is always moving, falling like a tree, seemingly looking up from the river, swirling with the dancing villagers, who are constantly making music of the mouth harp, auto harp and tremendously large bugle variety. A folk tale. A ghost tale. The kind of place where you're out in wonderous nature most of your life, surrounded by mist, trees, rain, art, and your stories are told through music, dance, and gossip.
Sergei Parajanov was an intensely artistic and creative man who was at odds with his Soviet government. His mystical aesthetic did not follow any social realist doctrine. He was jailed numerous times on trumped up charges and his films were blacklisted. While in jail he made over 800 drawings and hundreds of collages and dolls. His health suffered and he died at 66 of lung cancer. A tragedy. He is one of my favorite artists and I am constantly amazed by this film. He made others but this one with its traditional music, culture, and intense spirituality still leaves me spellbound.
The Kino release DVD features a documentary about Parajanov and his good friend, Andreï Tarkovsky and how they supported each other artistically, plus a photo gallery of Parajanov and much of his fantastic art. Not for everyone--just people who dream in 19th-century Ukrainian.