New film on Chornobyl: Pushing outside of the radioactive comfort zone

Author : Anton Filatov

Source : 112 Ukraine

The distribution of Volodymyr Tykhyy's "Brama" has started in the movie theatres
09:23, 31 July 2018

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The distribution of Volodymyr Tykhyy's "Brama" has started in the movie theatres. It is a mystical drama about Ukrainians who are not able to escape from their native land despite local life has turned into a total suffering. The film depicts our reality and some ironic pessimism.

Related: Chornobyl today: Disaster area 31 years after the nuclear fallout (Part 1)

The picture unfolds in the Chornobyl exclusion zone, where the hermit family lives. The family is headed by an eccentric old woman Baba Prysia, who smokes mysterious weeds, eats mushrooms and radioactive meat, communicates with the radio even when there are no batteries in it, she puts spells and also tells stories about the aliens in parliament and dandies in the forest.

Related: Fire ravages Chornobyl zone: Details of the disaster

Her daughter Slava helps her. After the accident at the Chornobyl nuclear power plant, she and her family moved to Crimea. But she did not manage to settle in a new place because of the humiliating stereotype about the Chornobyl victims, which the society put on them. In addition, children often broke Slava’s son, Vovchik’s, head to see his "Chornobyl brains." As a result, the boy became mentally ill. The family returned back to the Chornobyl zone their grandma Baba Prysia. And over time, Slava's husband left the family.

The heroes of this film are total losers, broken by the circumstances and surrounding. The dirty and dysfunctional microcosm in which they live, at first glance, seems exotic and funny. But behind all this eccentricity lies a hopeless longing for lost opportunities, unfulfilled desires, and lost happiness.

Baba Prysya, Slava, and Vovchik are constantly arguing with each other. The reasons for quarrels are often trifling household trivia. Here we see a hint that constant claims against each other can cause more harm than radiation.

Related: Radiation background in Kyiv, Chornobyl falls within norm

This film shows the vices of the Ukrainian society, traumas of the domestic history, and the problems of our region. The film tells how our country has been raped for centuries by the Tatars, Poles, Russians, Communists, and even aliens. Those in power, for whom the law is not written, are harshly criticized. And a portrait of an ordinary loser, who is broken under the pressure of political crises and social stresses, is demonstrated.

Related: Chornobyl: Hunting, smuggling, and stalkerism 31 years after the nuclear fallout (Part 2)

Many episodes of this film are devoted to purely local problems of Ukraine. Perhaps, that is why the picture does not enjoy great success abroad, where these issues are just obscure. For example, the film was presented at the film festivals "Dark Nights" (Tallinn) and LET'S CEE (Vienna), but it was left without rewards.

The first half of the movie looks funny due to a farce playing the Nazi accordion, masturbation in the attic, and chatter about the aliens. But closer to the outset, the plot turns from a tragicomedy into a mystical thriller.

The main conflict of the film is that the deputies who came to the exclusion zone shoot at Vovchik, using him as a living target. At the same time, a local police officer and a judge try to calm and hide this incident. After this episode, the film no longer causes a rare bitter smile, and its main characters begin to irritate the watcher with their stupid actions.

Related: Second Chornobyl: Yunkom mine flooding in Donbas might become a disaster

There are many ways to resist such arbitrariness of power. But out of all the possible options, the protagonists chose the most senseless ones: they conjure, pray, and swear with the policeman.

As a result, the vindictive grandmother did not manage to revenge those who were shooting into Vovchik. It is impossible to cut the root of evil.

At that time, a dull loser Slava was coming from one pharmacy to another in helpless attempts to find the necessary medicines. And when she found them, it turned out that she did not have enough money.

Slava and Baba Prysia are poor and powerless. But even in such a situation, they could have acted smarter to save Vovchik. It looks like that they have created all their problems.

Related: Latvian thrill-seeking tourists arrested in Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant area

The script of the film is based on the play of Ukrainian playwrighter Pavlo Arye. The play was staged by many theaters in Kyiv, Lviv, Kharkiv, Kherson, Moscow and other cities. Director Volodymyr Tykhyy has watched one of these performances, and he took up his screen version.

In March this year, Volodymyr Tykhyy was awarded the Shevchenko Prize for the cycle of documentary films "Babylon 13" about the events in Ukraine in recent years.

Irma Vitovska, who played Baba Prysia, appeared in Brama with a massive mask on her face. The actress is twice as young as the screen woman she is playing. Vitovska and Vitalina Bibliv (who played Slava) have created, perhaps, one of the best acting duets in Ukrainian cinema of recent years.

Related: Everyday life of Chornobyl inhabitants: 31 years after the nuclear fallout (Part 3)

These ambiguous concentrate generalizing portraits of two generations of our society. The first generation could not live its life because of World War II and Soviet power. And the second one was affected by the accident at the Chornobyl NPP and the social upheavals that followed.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or 112.International and its owners.

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