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Absurdistan (2008)

Not Rated | | Comedy | 20 March 2008 (Germany)
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An allegorical comedy centered on two childhood sweethearts who seem destined for one another until the women of their isolated village, angered by male indifference toward the water ... See full summary »

Director:

Veit Helmer
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5 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Max Mauff ... Temelko (as Maximilian Mauff)
Kristýna Podzimková ... Aya (as Kristýna Malérová)
Nino Chkheidze Nino Chkheidze ... Grandmother
Ivane Ivantbelidze Ivane Ivantbelidze ... Shooting Gallery Guy
Ani Amiridze Ani Amiridze ... Shooting Gallery Guy's Daughter
Ilko Stefanovski Ilko Stefanovski ... Guri - Temelko's Father
Assun Planas Assun Planas ... Temelko's Mother
Otto Kuhnle Otto Kuhnle ... Barber
Hijran Nasirova Hijran Nasirova ... Barber's Wife
Hendrik Arnst Hendrik Arnst ... Landlord
Olga Nefyodova Olga Nefyodova ... Landlord's Wife
Adalat Ziyadkhanov Adalat Ziyadkhanov ... Policeman (as Adalet Zyadhanov)
Matanat Atakishiyeva Matanat Atakishiyeva ... Policeman's Wife
Azelarab Kaghat Azelarab Kaghat ... Baker
Michaela Bandi Michaela Bandi ... Baker's Wife
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Storyline

An allegorical comedy centered on two childhood sweethearts who seem destined for one another until the women of their isolated village, angered by male indifference toward the water shortage, go on a sex strike that threatens the young couple's first night of love. Written by Sundance Film Festival

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Germany

Language:

Russian

Release Date:

20 March 2008 (Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

Absurdistán See more »

Filming Locations:

Azerbaijan See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,441, 8 February 2009

Gross USA:

$39,683

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$113,269
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Soundtracks

Temelko Underwater
Written by Shigeru Umebayashi
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User Reviews

Hmm...
4 November 2012 | by rooprectSee all my reviews

I'll start by attempting to summarize the difference between "American comedy" and "East European comedy" in broad terms. Trust me, this is going somewhere...

American comedy focuses on characters. Gags rely on the personalities of the people involved, facial expressions, closeups, voice tones, and what we, the audience, are led to feel about these characters. For example, when Christopher Walken says "It needs more cowbell" that's all she wrote. A million intricate nuances of Walken's personality and delivery are what make that joke fly.

East European comedies (I'm thinking mainly of films by Kusturica, Paradjanov, and early Forman which remind me of "Absurdistan") seem to rely on situations and surroundings rather than close characterizations. Shots are filmed from a distance so that we take in more of the scenery and atmosphere, and we rarely get lingering closeups the way we do in American comedies. For example, in Forman's hilarious "The Fireman's Ball", one of the funniest scenes is the chaotic madness at the beauty competition where the camera stays far from the action and we don't really see any faces. We just take in the absurdness of the whole scene.

===OK FINALLY... THE REVIEW OF ABSURDISTAN=== "Absurdistan" falls squarely in the "East European comedy" category. The characters are deliberately 2-dimensional, as if the director is telling us that the story is what's important, not the actors. Like a Paradjanov film, it's a fairytale that doesn't want to be upstaged by human interference. Thus, no time is wasted on personal backstories, dramatic emotions, or charisma. None of the characters even have names except the main two. There aren't many pauses for reflection, and there's only one real monologue scene showing us the girl Aya's inner self.

Normally I would have no problem with this presentation. Like I said, Forman's "The Fireman's Ball" is one of the funniest films I've seen, even though I couldn't name a single character or describe their personalities. But in "Absurdistan" it presents a noticeable void in that this is a love story. For a love story to have maximum effect, the director must invest some time creating an emotional connection between the lead character(s) and the audience. Here instead, most of the characters are caricatures of vices, making them thoroughly unlikeable. Even the two lead characters commit certain acts that may make you dislike them.

So if you decide to see this movie, don't expect a very personal story. This Ain't no Hugh Grant flick. Instead, take "Absurdistan" at a distance as the movie is probably intended to be watched. This movie is a metaphor, a fable, a fairytale, and we aren't supposed to get caught up waiting for some personal emotional payoff.

If you've seen Viet Helmer's prior film "Tuvalu" it has much of the same approach. Except Tuvalu is not a love story, so the disconnection between characters & audience works. Here in "Absurdistan" it presents a conflict which may or may not fly, depending on how you like your love stories.

A final note, which may or may not mean anything to you, is that there are a few disturbing scenes with animals. A mule getting pulled & prodded, a chained dog getting soaked, a horse being tied up in a nasty looking horse-shoeing device, and a dead chicken that looked pretty real. Since this film was made in Azerbaijan outside the American Humane & RSPCA's jurisdiction, there certainly wasn't any "No animals were harmed" disclaimer at the end. If anyone knows how those scenes were monitored please post something about it.


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