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Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (1964)

Tini zabutykh predkiv (original title)
A timeless Carpathian story - the young Ivan falls in love with the daughter of his father's killer among the Hutsul people of Ukraine.


Sergei Parajanov (as S. Paradzhanov)


Ivan Chendej (screenplay) (as I. Chendey), Mikhaylo Kotsyubinsky (based on novel by) | 1 more credit »

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2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »


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Cast overview:
Ivan Mykolaichuk ... Ivan Paliychuk (as I. Mykolaichuk)
Larisa Kadochnikova ... Marichka Gutenyuk (as L. Kadochnykova)
Tatyana Bestayeva ... Palagna (as T. Bestayeva)
Spartak Bagashvili ... Yurko Malfar (as S. Bagashvili)
Nikolay Grinko ... Vatag (as M. Grynko)
Leonid Yengibarov Leonid Yengibarov ... Myko (as L. Yengibarov)
Nina Alisova ... Mother of Ivan (as N. Alisova)
Aleksandr Gai ... Father of Ivan (as O. Gai)
Neonila Gnepovskaya ... Mother of Marichka (as N. Gnipovska)
Aleksandr Raydanov ... Father of Marichka (as O. Raydanov)
Igor Dzyura ... Ivan as a child (as I. Dzyura)
Valentina Glinko ... Marichka as a child (as V. Glyanko)


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 <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A New Kind of Soviet Film...acclaimed around the world at all film festivals


Drama | Music | Romance


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Parents Guide:

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Soviet Union



Release Date:

18 October 1965 (Soviet Union) See more »

Also Known As:

Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors See more »

Filming Locations:

Ukraine See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Dovzhenko Film Studios See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (original uncut)

Sound Mix:



Color (Sovcolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider. See more »


When the two children run down the hill to have a bath in the river, the entire camera rig, including the operator, can be seen in a shadow on the ground. See more »


Referenced in Chendej's Well (2018) See more »

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User Reviews

Won six international film festival awards—this depiction of Hutsul culture should be in libraries, public and personal, worldwide!
17 April 2008 | by MandrivnykSee all my reviews

Good news/bad news. The good news is that Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (Shadows), a truly exceptional film, is out in DVD format—and, the color reproduction was well worth waiting for. It's based on a masterpiece novel of the same name written by Ukrainian author (late 19th-early 20th centuries) Mykhailo Kotsiubynsky.

Journey into the past and experience the world-renowned Ukrainian Hutsul folklore and folkways that encyclopedists, historians, and authors depict by way of words and the film gives credence to via imagery, moods, symbolism, and sounds. Avenues you'll travel will branch off, giving you exposure to artistic embroideries, folk music, folk songs, ornate costumes, religious ceremonies, and traditional rituals (such as a traditional Hutsul wedding and a traditional Hutsul burial), along the way.

Folklife comes alive as you float down a river in a unique wooden raft, partake in Christmas festivities, encounter a sorcerer, and lots more--all against a backdrop of the magnificent Ukrainian Carpathian Mountains, where trees' shadows silhouette straight as they stretch for the stars and for the skies, where horses dress in tassels as they meander meadows and highlands, where Hutsuls converse across Carpathian Mountains via trembitas--and, where Ivan cannot forget his true love.

Shadows isn't your typical feel-good film--it's for the connoisseur of fine arts. If you want your senses stimulated, your imagination enlivened, and your knowledge of Hutsul culture expanded, then, this is the film for you!

Film director, Sergei Parajanov, was an Armenian born in Georgia. He insisted on filming Shadows in the Ukrainian language and refused to dub it into Russian. In his lifetime, he was persecuted by the Soviets, was arrested several times, spent years in prison, and his subsequent works were banned.

Later renamed Wild Horses of Fire for most foreign distributions, Shadows was Parajanov's first major work, and earned him international acclaim for its rich use of color and costume--it won six international film festival awards: London, San Francisco, Mar del Plata, New York, Montreal, and Thessaloniki.

Wikipedia states that Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan borrowed the title of their book, Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors: A Search for Who We Are, from the movie of that same name, which they state has little in common with the "haunting 1964 film."

The bad news is that a number of descriptive entries are inaccurate. Reading the misleading descriptions on the VHS/DVD covers give the impression that the film is Russian. This film is licensed by Kino from the Russian distributor Ruscico, which is probably why the descriptions refer incorrectly to Russian rather than Ukrainian.

1. The descriptions on both the VHS and DVD covers state, in part, "depiction of the harsh realities of Russian regional history...." The phrase "Russian regional history" is incorrect and should read: "Ukrainian regional history." Not only is the film in the Ukrainian language, the Hutsuls are Ukrainians living in the Ukrainian Carpathian Mountains, and the film is based on a novel by Ukrainian author Mykhailo Kotsiubynsky (1864-1913).

Update: This has now been changed to good news on Amazon.com: the copy now reads "Ukrainian regional history." However, anybody looking at the actual VHS or DVD covers will still see these erroneous descriptions; thus, these points still need to be highlighted as incorrect.

2. Correction is also needed in the reference: "And although its unsentimental depiction of the harsh realities of Russian (sic—as referenced in no. 1 above) regional history forced visionary director Sergei Pararadjanov (The Color of Pomegranates) into direct conflict with bureaucrats then controlling the Soviet film industry...."

Director Parajanov insisted on filming his adaptation in the Ukrainian language and refused to dub it into Russian--that's what caused his conflict with Communist authorities--not his portrayal of the "harsh realities of Russian (sic—as referenced in no. 1 above) regional history." However, anybody looking at the VHS or DVD covers will still see these erroneous descriptions; thus, these points still need to be highlighted as incorrect.

To see 45 photos depicting Hutsuls while learning more about their culture, please visit Amazon.com and click on "images" in Mandrivnyk's book review of Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors.

Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors is a must see/must own DVD--at the very least, it should appear worldwide on library shelves and in personal collections. This DVD definitely deserves 10-stars!—Mandrivnyk

P. S. To see over 650 photos (with notes) of Ukraine that I took in 1993 and 1994, please visit the profile page of Mandrivnyk (Arlington Heights, IL) on Amazon.com. Visit each review (to view the photos in sequential order); if you visit the image gallery, you'll see the photos in random order. They'll enhance your knowledge and understanding of Ukraine and Ukrainians.

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