Friday, February 17, 2012

“The Forgiveness Of Blood” – Movie Review




This week in my movie class, we saw a drama titled, “The Forgiveness Of Blood” starring a cast of mostly non-professional actors. 



When two Albanian families engage in a blood feud, one of them experience dissention – but will the experience ultimately result in making the family stronger or completely tearing them apart? 


Despite modern technology creeping its way into even the most remote areas of the tiny nation of Albania, there are still some centuries-old traditions that are clung to steadfastly by its residents – among them, is the bitter and dangerous blood feud.  Blood feuds can arise from even the most petty of differences but can wind up lasting years, decades or longer, with its impact felt by generations of families who have long since forgotten the original cause of the feud. 

One such feud occurs between the families of Mark and Sokol.  Mark modestly supports his family by delivering a local baker’s fresh bread to various neighbors and businesses in his small town; unfortunately, in order to do so in a timely and efficient manner, Mark’s horse-drawn cart must take a shortcut through Sokol’s land – something which Sokol has long resented.  When Sokol confronts Mark about this in the midst of one day’s attempted delivery, Mark becomes so enraged by Sokol’s narrow-mindedness and insistence on embarrassing him in front of his daughter that he threatens Sokol with revenge. 

That night, Mark returns with his brother and they murder Sokol; although the brother is arrested, Mark escapes and goes into hiding.  As a result of this blood feud, the male members of Mark’s family are endangered and must remain indoors; this forces Rudina, Mark’s eldest daughter, to drop out of school and take on her father’s delivery business in order to make ends meet.  In addition, Nik, the eldest son, must also drop out and is confined to the family’s house, turning him angry, bitter and maybe even more than just a little bit stir crazy.  With the family soon turning against itself, can they maintain a united front against their enemy or will they collapse under the oppressive strain brought on by this blood feud?    



Grim, bleak and almost free of sentiment, “The Forgiveness Of Blood” can be quite a difficult film to watch.  Certainly, it is not for everyone.  However, if movies that take you into a different world and introducing an unfamiliar culture are your thing, then “The Forgiveness Of Blood” may very well be right up your alley – assuming, of course, you’re not exactly out looking for the feel-good movie of the year.  If you’re in the mood for a light-hearted romp, then you might be better off checking out Reese Witherspoon’s latest offering. 

Although much of the cast comprises non-professional actors, it is perhaps this very fact that gives the film an air of authenticity.  Sometimes, it almost seems as though you are watching a documentary because things feel so realistic rather than staged.  At the same time, however, it can also be rather frustrating and infuriating to watch precisely because you know that these sort of blood feuds are not only based in reality but also very much part of the Albanian cultural heritage.  The fact that they take this sort of thing so seriously will leave you shaking your head in disbelief. 

Following the screening, our instructor interviewed Paul Mezey, one of the film’s producers.  Mezey had previously worked with this film’s director Joshua Marston years ago on the critically-acclaimed “Maria Full Of Grace”.  Mezey said that this film was one of the most difficult shoots he had ever been on because of the genuine competitive nature of the Albanian people as they sought out respect and dignity at every turn; politely declining someone’s offer of generosity or hospitality is seen as the greatest possible insult, for example, even though no disrespect may have been intended. 


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