Movie Suggestion XXXIV: Povodyr
Country: Ukraine – 2014
Genre: Drama, History
Directed by: Oles Sanin
Starring: Stanislav Boklan, Jeff Burrell, Anton Sviatoslav Greene
“Early 1930th. Peter is ten years old boy in the midst of turbulent Soviet Ukraine. His father, American engineer, is killed for obtaining secret documents about repressions, which now are hidden in Peter’s book. Boy flees from police with a blind Kobzar (Ukrainian folk minstrel), Ivan Kocherga. Ivan does everything to help his young guide to grow up and survive with a kind and clear soul that will not be hardened by what his eyes have seen. He tells his young guide elaborate stories that make him believe there can be a different reality from what he sees around him. We are challenged to admit the blind Kobzar may see the world with greater clarity than those with perfect eyes.” (imdb.com)
“The Guide – one of the best Ukrainian movies ever. Must watch film, to understand current events in Ukraine. (Maidan 2014) History repeats itself, especially since Russian government has not changed it’s policy toward Ukrainian nation. Based on Historical facts the movie portrays how Soviet/Russian government had always wanted to destroy Ukrainian identity, culture and its people. The movie is set in early 1930 Kharkiv, beginning of planed mass starvation (10 million Ukrainian civilians) by Josef Stalin, called Holodomor. It also teaches us about Ukrainian heroes, legendary Kobzars, spiritual leaders of Ukrainian nation. In addition to a powerful story that the movie tells, filming, acting and directing is at highest level of filmography.” (Volodymyr Lytvyn)
“The director is tremendously talented. The style is reminiscent of Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker. Despite the sadness of some of the events, you are immersed in a world of supernatural beauty. The journeys through nature have a ethereal transcendent quality to them. The blindness of a leading character adds to this. The death toll of Stalin’s famine was estimated at 7-10 million. This was one of the worst cases of genocide in human history. In this movie your soul feels the weight of this tragedy, but the movie does not dwell on this. It is setting, not the main narrative thrust. Hope and tender moments of compassion fill the screen. When this movie shows tragedy it is ultimately contrasted with a resistance of a human spirit that refuses to die. This movie is also a powerful reminder. The false promises of communism, which merely pretends to be a collectivist philosophy while actually operating more like a mafia, are juxtaposed with the real promises of compassion and love for ones neighbor. We are also shown communist propaganda tactics that mask true intentions and create confusion. Similar spin tactics accompany the war today. This is the film that Ukraine needed to make in response to what is happening to it right now. But it is so much more than that.” (ejf2161)
“This film is really valuable for me like for thousands other people. Because of its story lines, kobza-player’s songs, picturesque Ukrainian nature and incredible mix of emotions like “laughing through crying”. “The Guide” for me is a promise for the great future of cinema in my Motherland, because this film is valuable for Ukrainians only, but not for the whole world now. Let me begin from bad side of “The Guide”. It’s Jamala’s unnatural play. She don’t live in the film. She is trying to play. And this is the thing, which give opportunity for growing to Oles Sanin and Ukrainian cinema. Then, someone said Grin’s play wasn’t so good, but it can’t be usual or whole-understandable for us, because he is a person from different country and culture both in real life and film. That’s all about bad sides. Maybe, its worth to say smth about dialogs, but that which were played by brilliant actors are good and . I am completely sure co-scenes of Stanislav Boklan and Irina Sanina were the best, because of its authenticity and premiere on the “big screen”. I should say a big “Thank you!” to Sergii Mihalchuk, who took a picture, and whole film team (I don’t really know who should get the biggest appreciation, except of director and actors, of course). Another advantage its shooting in Ukrainian picturesque nature, which takes a heart with it for a long months (I have watched “The Guide” in November, but I still remember that moments of delight by simply watching native landscapes). Year, so many words without mentioning dramatic storyline in this film, which should play, actually, the main role. But for me it isn’t smth new, unknown. I can’t even imagine how it was. And I’m really stressful-less person, so it hasn’t touched me. Only mentioned that it really-really-really and I have a huge reason to live for. Mistake isn’t excused. But “The Guide” is still the best and you still should watch it to understand and to move our history on.” (Maryana Pigur).
“After creation of Soviet Union the cultures of all nations except Russians were oppressed here. Many cultural figures of Ukraine (writers, poets, scientists, theater and movie directors, actors, painters, musicians, folk artists, etc) undesirable for Soviet regime were executed or exiled to Siberia on the hard physical works, especially during the 1930s (it is known as Executed Renaissance). Among such figures were bandurists, the folk musicians who played on the bandura (Ukrainian folk string instrument) and sign mainly the patriotic sad ballads about cossacks, the Ukrainian steppe warriors of the 15-19 centuries.
Main plot of this movie is a story of a blind wondering bandurist Ivan Kocherga in 1932-1933. Accidentally he gives some help to American boy Peter, whose father was killed by Soviet special services because of some secret documents, and takes him as sighted person – the guide.
Blind bandurist and his young guide are traveling in Eastern Ukraine among the beautiful landscapes and witnessing repressions of Ukrainian people by Soviet regime.
It is clearly the best movie about Ukrainian culture since famous “Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors” (1965) of Sergei Parajanov and definitely the best one that was filmed in independent Ukraine so far.” (Igor Balashov)
March 18, 2015