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Leden syn (2005)
An insightful comic treatment of Bulgaria's recent history
"Icy Dream" was aired on Bulgarian television in 2005, and is not readily accessible to an international audience, which is a loss. This film has an extremely clever plot that takes the viewer from the heyday of communism in the mid-80s squarely to the heart of capitalist Bulgaria in 2005, the year the film was made. The dialog is witty and intelligent, and is supported by fabulous acting. Asen Blatechki in the role of the rebellious socialist artist turned capitalist success is outstanding, but my favorite performance is by veteran actress Boika Velkova, the deep-voiced, red-haired power-woman who does a brilliant job in her role as head of the "NIK" cryogenic laboratory. It is tons of fun to see Bulgaria poke fun at itself with such a fine comedy. An encounter with a gay man in a department store provokes the comment "we'll be seeing lots more of those now," while the right-hand man of the mafia can now have himself frozen for a couple of decades to escape his misdeeds with impunity using technology developed by the socialists for space exploration. The musical score supports the film superbly, and the cinematography is great. If you want to get an insider's view of Bulgaria's transition from communism to capitalism, try to find a way to see this movie. It's a real treat, and its inaccessibility to a broader public is truly a loss.
A wonderfully meaningful film
This movie is a sensitive emotional study of lives in transition. The acting is top-notch and the scenery gives a realistic feeling for the psychological and symbolic interaction of modern Bulgarians with the moody mountainous landscape where the story it set. The film is the last for actor Georgi Georgiev-Getz, who died three years later. His performance alone makes Kragovrat worth viewing. Far from giving a cameo performance, this veteran actor shows why he is so highly regarded in Bulgaria for his outstanding dramatic abilities. This is a great modern study of family and conflict in 20th century Bulgarian society and gives evidence of the quality and artistry of film production in this part of Europe. This is a film well worth viewing!
A gorgeous work of film art
This beautiful film is a magnificent antidote to the action-filled films overwhelmed by special effects to which we have all become accustomed. Knöpfel's sensitivity to the original text by 19th-century Austrian author Adalbert Stifter makes her film a valuable visual rendering of the novella. The exotic beauty of the Hungarian puszta, while beautifully described in Stifter's text, is hard to visualize for readers who have never experienced its unique landscape directly. This is a key contribution of the film, for Knöpfel succeeds in underscoring the multi-faceted traditional feeling of Eastern Hungary. The extras often speak in Hungarian, even in dialect, another feature Stifter is unable to realize in his original work. When the narrator is thus immersed in all of the sights and sounds of the Hungarian countryside he will soon adopt for awhile as his own, a level of appreciation for his experience is achieved that complements the novella in an important manner.
The choice of the actress for the role of Brigitta is intriguing, how many actresses want to identify themselves as lacking in external beauty? I can imagine having chosen an actress with even plainer features. But the quality of the performances all the way around is outstanding. The black and white filmography is also an intriguing choice, and works well in terms of arousing a sense of historical culture within the viewer.
This film has a refreshingly slow and contemplative pace that makes it meditative and inspiring in a manner not achieved by the fast-paced films that dominate the market today. In this sense this film can be recommended to anyone who seeks an opportunity to search inwardly as the narrative unfolds. The music complements the story successfully, the entire feel of Brigitta is dominated by beauty, sensitivity, and introspection. It's wonderful to see the work of a female director so deeply and sensitively informed about literature and culture in Central Europe. I look forward to getting to know Knöpfel's work better.