Years after declaring her eternal virginity and opting to live life as a man in the mountains of Albania, Hana looks to return to living as a woman as she settles into a new existence in modern-day Milan.
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Pier Giorgio Bellocchio,
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Hana Doda, still a girl, escapes from her destiny of being wife and servant which is imposed on the women in the inhospitable mountains in Albania. She appeals to the old law of the Kanun and swears her eternal virginity thus becoming a "sworn virgin". She turns into a man, takes up a rifle and becomes Mark, Mark Doda. It is in exchange for this sacrifice that Hana is allowed to be considered at the same level as other men. Her battle does not only mean that she must rebel against what destiny has been writing on her body for centuries, but she must also reject, in name of this rebellion, every form of love. A refusal that becomes her prison. After more than ten years spent in solitude in the mountains as a man, she becomes brutish and she transforms to survive the hardship, the cold and misery, until something returns to awaken her again... Hana decides to change life and painstakingly regain her body. She knows that leaving the mountains is the price she will have to pay to be able ...
I hope to revisit this with a longer review if I can, but for now I will say this film was deeply moving. I never, NEVER say that about a movie - usually that's a cheesy overwrought thing to say, but this film actually is. It's just a notch or two short of something like "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly". Totally different subject matter, of course; and not as wrenching, but really truly worthwhile. All I'll say is that the main story is about a woman who does or did not quite fit in, and the secondary story is about a young woman coming of age who does not *want* to fit in.
I might say that it's about a culture different than ours that somehow developed a way of accommodating people who do not fit into the mainstream, rather like the 'berdache' among North American Natives or maybe those known as 'hijra' of South Asia.
Take a look at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albanian_sworn_virgins for a little background.
Anyway, it's beautifully filmed, very well realized, and very affecting. I'll be thinking about it for some time. See it in a real theater if you get a chance.
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