Plot: Following the funeral of Ivan's father (a tree falls on him), he meets and skinny-dips with the daughter of a family with which his family is feuding. Later, she drowns. Oh, snap! He tries his best to live a normal life and winds up marrying another woman, but can't fall out of love with Marichka, the childhood sweetheart who haunts his dreams. So, he mopes around a lot and grumbles about having to share his vodka. His wife begins practicing sorcery in an attempt to change her husband's heart, and her actions lead to a weird pagan love triangle and a drunken fight with axes. Oh, double snap!
But the plot doesn't matter. It's all about the visuals! This has been sitting around the house for a while now, and I've been afraid it would bore me. I'm glad I finally felt in the mood enough for it because it's amazing and far from boring. Seeing the rituals and daily goings-on of these Carpatian folk makes for an odd enough experience, but the experience is doubly disorienting with the visual flare of director Sergie Paradjanov, a person I've never heard of. The camera (lots of times handheld) whirls, dives, loses focus, absorbs colors, slashes, swims, swoons, floats, jerks, and dances in electrifying ways that I've never seen before. There's so much visual creativity here used to make the beautiful into something even more majestic. Loved the surreal camera angles; really, almost every single shot in the movie was artistic and strange and just about perfect. Lots of religious imagery, colors and tones, and nature stuff, no doubt symbolic in ways that I'm too dopey to even understand, add to the depth of the story and gives it a perplexing grip. This is one of those films--like The Wicker Man, Herzog's Aguirre: The Wrath of God, The Story of the Weeping Camel, and the first Inuit movie The Fast Runner (the latter which I didn't like)--that creates an otherworldliness that just bewilders. This is one of the best movies I've seen all year that nearly everybody I know would really hate.