With a Fordian simplicity and an eye for beautiful rural landscapes, Merab Kokochashvili has woven a tale that no doubt speaks to the heart of many a Georgian.
A group of geologists discover oil under the fields where Sosana, the aged and anachronistic father, raises his herd with his unhappy wife, her friend and his growing boy with whom he displays a wonderful rapport. The land is invaded by big machinery that feels remarkably alien to the serene and natural aesthetic of the valley. The family all enjoys the pleasures and storytelling capacity a slide projector grants them, but it too feels distinctly out of place in a town with no plumbing. Also similar to what is often witnessed in Ford’s cinema, the wife, likely due to the less than thrilling station that is allotted all women in such an archaic environment, is much more interested in moving forward and embracing the winds of change. Sosana is stubborn, misogynistic and clinging to his heritage. He’s not an entirely unsympathetic character, though. We witness his kindness to an elderly man who decided to leave the farm after a number of years leaving more questions than answers as he exits almost as if he didn’t have a choice in the matter. He remarks something about his parents, but it hardly seems sincere. It’s likely that he knew the farm was going to be demolished and was simply saving himself the grief of watching a friend be torn down with it.
This sort of narrative strikes me as an incredibly profound and devastating one; a man at odds with what is inevitable and maybe even better for the country at large. Man is one with nature in Georgian cinema, and Kokochashvili’s long distance shots position man as a mere speck in the midst of it.