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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 »
Yet another bleak, cynical Russian take on the modern world and its moral conditions (Leviathan, etc). Here, Russian director Kirill Serebrennikov and German playwright Marius Von Mayenburg re-tread the age old argument that pits Christianity against the modern worlds view on human morality. Made in a somewhat trendy, dismal style, with too many shaky hand held shots and some overbearing music - these movie makers, as with so many others over the decades, seem to think they have reached an informed conclusion so, able to convince us all of their superior intellectual standpoint. They have both chosen to overlook the fact that vast numbers who went before them, have concluded that it's an unwinnable topic that leaves more questions than answers – in fact, many who set out to fight against and disprove the wisdom of Christ's word, converted over to it.
They use many of the Bibles strongest passages to substantiate their subservient arguments but the language presented on both sides of their viewpoint tends to suggest that perhaps: The Wisdom of Man is Less than the Foolishness of God. Their protagonist is portrayed as a psychotic who quotes almost verbatim Bible scriptures but, he is ultimately shown to be as crippled as the cripple he tries to heal, then harms. This character offers no real basis to mount a genuine argument. As another reviewer has already stated: Laughable.
Set in a current (surprisingly undisciplined) Russian school, many of the usual hooks are put-out to appeal to our basic instincts: Sexual freedoms (with lashings of nudity and sexual situations) ~ Anti Semitism (with the biology-sex-ed teacher being both anti-Christian and Jewish, in fact - her character simply allows for situations of associated Christian based hatred, to be easily introduced within the ideals of the modern world) ~ Next, there's the headmistress and the teacher of religious studies - both shown to be perhaps out of touch (as one might expect). These movie makers have perfectly armed themselves with so many manipulative character devises to support their biased point of view. It's too easy to mount an argument by designing characters to serve an already formed view.
If the topic leans your way it could appeal - otherwise, stay away.
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