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After Venya's mother receives a call from school reporting her son's refusal to participate in mixed swimming lessons, she first suspects her teenager of being shy and derides his claim that it is "against his religion." As Venya is finally exempted by the school's devout principal, he grows confident that his strict and rigorous study of the Bible gives him the ability to manipulate all forms of authority. Challenged by a teacher who refuses to consent to his dogma, he sets out to eliminate her and subdue an entire community. At a time when arguments over the teaching of religion in public schools are prominent in the media, this wildly escalating classroom drama - based on a play by German playwright Marius von Mayenburg - serves as a frightening cautionary tale.Written by
Under The Milky Way
The original Russian title "(M)uchenik", with the 'm' in parentheses, is a play on words, a pun, combining the Russian word "muchenik", which means "martyr", with the Russian word "uchenik", which means "student". Because the Russian pun would not be understood, and there is no way to translate it, the simplified title "Uchenik", or "The Student", was used at the Cannes Film Festival 2016. See more »
It is hard to describe this film. A challenging film to make as well. Not like an expensive film with huge cast and graphics. It's a simple drama, a drama that draws a line between two different theories the humans have adapted and followed in the present world. So when a film drags religious as its prime topic, most of those kind of films never received well in the past, says the history. I don't know this film met with any kind of controversy, but all I know is it brought in a wrong religion to tell the story.
I'm not against such kind of concept. But this film was one of those annoying one. It's neither preaching religious nor against. That does not mean a well balanced narration. No, it's not. If you are a believer, you might think it is making some false claims. If you are a nonbeliever, that's a test for your temper. There are many scenes where it could have taken a turn like a normal clichéd film does, but it did not go those ways. Just headed randomly, dragged the runtime of the film to nearly two hours.
The story follows the high school boy Venya, who recently have started to read the Bible. Living with his mother, they have never into the religious stuff. Now he thinks he found his belief, but that does not it, he begins to impact everyone, everything around him. Because of him the school loses its privileges in many sectors. Suddenly he becomes a villain to many eyes, but there's one big backing for him all the way. Then the rivalry between him and the biology teacher heats up. How far it goes and how it all ends told in the remaining parts.
❝I wish he collected stamps or jerked off all the time.❞
Venya's belief in the 2000 year old book reminded me a real person in my life. He almost trusts everything he reads from the books, which were printed decades ago. The science is updated every day. When a book got printed and in the meantime to reach the people, a new theories have already been proved. That's what I argue with him all the time that he's late and learnt old ones. Two millenniums ago, there was no democracy. This religious book made people to follow uniform rules around the world. Now the time is different, where these old texts do not make logic, excluding the moral values it teaches us. So, like saying, don't believe in everything you read is perfectly aplpies here.
The film was adapted from a German play. The entire film shot in a month of time. Most of the cast were first time in front of the camera. There's no complaint about the filmmaking. From cinematography to acting, dialogues, direction, music, all were top class. But you know, the story had not compromised in any one particular path among the two topics it dealt with. Like it keeps poking in the viewer's eyes by not giving what they want. That makes it a one time watchable film. Because, for such storyline and its such ending, who would go back for a second view.
I have waited till the final for some real twist in the tale! It did come, but totally disappointed the way it went on to conclude. But there were a few sub-topics like gay, (school) politics et cetera. Remember, it is a Russian film where the filmmakers have so many restrictions to use the contents. So I understand the way the film had been made. Even though, just an above average film in my opinion. Definitely it is not a bad film. You could like it better than me, but I'm not sure of that. At least it was unique, and what most of the modern Russian films dared to expose the social issues the nation is facing. I won't favour it, but you should not ignore it too. Do some research on it and decide yourself to try it.
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