In a Carpathian village, Ivan falls in love with Marichka, the daughter of his father's killer. When tragedy befalls her, his grief lasts months; finally he rejoins the colorful life around him, marrying Palagna. She wants children but his mind stays on his lost love. To recapture his attention, Palagna tries sorcery, and in the process comes under the spell of the sorcerer, publicly humiliating Ivan, who then fights the sorcerer. The lively rhythms of village life, the work and the holidays, the pageant and revelry of weddings and funerals, the change of seasons, and nature's beauty give proportion to Ivan's tragedy.Written by
Shadows of Our Forgotten Ancestors is set in Western Ukraine (Carpathian mountains) circa the 1860's. It was banned in the USSR because it emphasized the unique Ukrainian culture and in fact the language throughout the film was Ukrainian and not Russian. Plus the references to the Church and religion could not have helped. The story is deceptively simple. As a child, Ivan falls in love with his neighbor and fathers killers daughter Marichka. The first half of the film deals with that love and the second with Ivan's downfall after she dies in an accident.
Shadows would probably not appeal to someone looking for great acting, strong characterizations and emotional pull. But, it more than makes up for these deficiencies in its visual brilliance and authenticity of periodic detail. This is one of the most beautiful looking films ever made. The elaborate costumes, the folk songs and simple village life all create a world that you know just had to have existed. Not exactly commercial fare, Shadows is a stunningly beautiful looking film and in fact a lesson in old Ukrainain culture. I highly recommend this for art-house film fans.
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