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What's in a game? For a young man, who has left his country behind, lost his memory and forgotten his love, the game might be the only way out. This is a story about a Bulgarian boy who grows up to be a German man. After a car accident Alex can't remember even what his name is. In an attempt to cure him from amnesia, his grandfather Bai Dan comes over to Germany and organizes a spiritual journey for his grandson back into his past, to the country where he came from. In changing places, time and transport, crossing half Europe, they play backgammon, the simplest, and yet the most complex of all games. That game leads Alex to the realizations of who he is, and that game is symbolic to the story. Destiny is the dice we hold in our own hands and life is a game on the edge between chance and skill.Written by
Georgi Djulgerov <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Let me open with a few relevant personal facts. I am a Bulgarian who immigrated to America with my parents around the age of nine. Initially we stayed at an immigration camp in Italy. Essentially, I have experienced the journey of the young kid.
Based on my personal experience, I think the movie contained quite a few overstatements of facts like the people staying in the camp 3-4 years while their documents were being processed, or the somewhat overstated communist reality in Bulgaria at the time. Among these exaggerations, there were quite a few things that were very accurate however. For example immigrants (profugas) were pretty much fed pasta - most of the time without any sauce - while the UN paid something like $50 per day per immigrant to the camp. This amount would have enabled us to live much better had it been given directly to us.
Thinking about these exaggerations, I am somewhat ready to forgive the makers for resorting to them, since they did amplify the ideas that were being conveyed. Emotions such as the paralyzing fear of the uncertainty ahead that gnawed at every immigrant's soul aren't easily expressed without relying on parable to some degree. Perhaps a more seasoned film maker would have toned things down, but likely not.
I did find a few somewhat pointless episodes like the love scene with the singer, which did nothing for me other than sweeten the happy end. Also I think the movie would have been better served if the Sashko's past hadn't been erased through the use of a somewhat brutally cliché device like the car crash, but through a more psychological one like the dissolution of his parents' marriage or such.
All in all - as other reviewers have posted - although the movie has a number of clichés, it uses them constructively. Rather than deafening or turning off the viewer, the clichés tend to amplify the message to a level that it becomes clearer.
Basically the movie works.
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