SPECIAL:

Central Asia

©GULNARA ABIKEEVA

REVIEW

The Dance of Men

Ethnic melodrama. Once upon a time, in a remote village, lived a boy and a girl – next-door neighbors. They were meant to be with each other by their fortunes. However, the whims of destiny – the death of a grandfather, the boy being drafted to army and his arrest for deserting – are postponing their wedding. It seems that they will never get married. But the wedding will take place despite all the obstacles.

The most difficult task for an artist is to restate a simple universal truth and not be trivial. The film The Dance Of Men is about simple universal truths – there are the skies and the earth; water is wet; the sun rises in the East; and love is always love… Also, the structure of the film is very simple and traditional – it is an unhurried tale about a couple in love, struggling to unite but opposed by the routines of life.

The artistry of the film director transfers the simple narrative into poetic metaphors – like a repetition of a basic geometric square that with variation of its size, thickness and color may result in a complex and effective design, for example the pattern of Scottish plaid.

The picture starts with the scene that may be considered the epigraph of the whole movie: Tashtemir, a little boy, wanders in the labyrinth of the rugs drying in the sun. He cannot get out. Finally, he pushes one carpet with all his strength and gets out. Outside the carpet labyrinth he meets Sanam, a little girl, who will become his bride in the future. All actions of Tashtemir in the film recall his childhood struggle in the carpet labyrinth to reach his desired goal.

Eastern parables are amazingly simple in their forms. Their hidden profound message reaches the listener like a sudden revelation. In the film The Dance Of Men by Yusup Razikov, enlightenment comes from the sudden realization that our, ordinary people’s, feelings are similar to the storms of passion described by the poets, and that the world of our emotions is the most precious jewel we possess. This profound massage defines the style of the film – colorful and bright, almost kitsch like. Common behavior is transformed into archetypes. The primary colors symbolize the original freshness of being. The characters remind of ourselves, in the way we see ourselves in our dreams.

Speaking of the dramatic structure, I would identify the conflict of two worlds – the traditional world and the approaching westernized reality. As the story progresses, the film director declares the traditional lifestyle. These are scenes with the rug labyrinth, Tashtemir’s grandfather, classroom globes, and, especially, the final scene with Sanam’s grandmother. Sanam’s grandmother says to Tashtemir: "You and Sanam get married tomorrow, no matter what happens. Even if I die…" The wedding begins and only the bride and groom know that the grandmother is not asleep…

This example demonstrates how the cruel laws of nature yield to the new paradigm of life. This is an opposition of the symbols because both weddings and funerals are the most archaic and conservative elements of a traditional culture. The energy of life (the wedding) triumphs over the pathos of death (the funeral).

The epos of any nation has simple plots and the actions of the heroes are always transparent. This simplicity has a value of its own because the epos is an algorithm of people’s life and a reflection of their worldview. The film The Dance Of Men has these qualities. The filmmaker’s desire to express this through his artistic generalizations is one of his characteristics.

Yusup Razikov creates consistently, from film to a film, a national cinematic language, reflecting the Uzbek mentality and the national worldview. Step by step, Yusup Razikov creates the new epos. Time will tell if this epos will survive and become popular.

In this film the creative individuality of the film director amazingly co-exists with the government politics emphasizing production of "people’s" movies. Therefore, the film The Dance Of Men tells much more about Uzbek people than any thick ethnographic volumes.

 


Gulnara Abikeeva, 2003

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