Reflections: Vozvrashchenie (The Return)

Vozvrashchenie (Image source: IMDB)

Thanks to IMDB that I have discovered movies from different regions of the globe which otherwise I would have never heard of. An year and a half ago I came to know of a movie whose title was tongue twister. And it had got good reviews. The brief of the story was that the story is about two young brothers and their father who returns after 12 years to meet them. The description wasn't very exciting but nonetheless kept it in my 'to watch' list. And finally on a cloudy Sunday afternoon I watched it, after spending the morning watching 'Devi Ahilya Bai' - a historical movie but little slow even for me who wouldn't get bored watching a dead fly for hours.

The movie is Russian and has won many awards including Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. It starts with four young kids jumping off a tall tower over a lake and brandishing their courage in doing so. The last one -  Ivan (Ivan Dobronravov) is unable to for the fear of heights. He is mocked by being called a chicken by his friends and his elder brother Andrey (Vladimir Garin). The two brothers start fighting and rush home to complain about each other to their mother, who asks them to be quiet as their father is sleeping inside. They are surprised as Otets (Konstantin Lavronenko) has come to meet them after 12 years. Though it isn't apparent whether Ivan or Andrey have ever met him or not. He takes them on a trip which would include fishing but somehow he gets busy with a 'business deal' in the middle and drags along his two children with him.

Ivan finds his father not too friendly and remains distant from him while Andrey is comfortable. Till now the brothers have lived a very protected life with their mother. It is Otets who teaches them to fight to protect their right (though unsuccessfully), move a thing that ain't moving by putting branches under it (a stuck up car), row a boat that's lost in the middle of nowhere with a faulty propeller and how to anchor a boat on a beach side (again unsuccessfully). Otets hits Ivan and Andrey lot of times depicting his dominant side but also worries and cares about them by fishing and making tents for them.

Towards the end, before starting their return journey from an island where Otets digs up a small wooden box as a part of his dealing, the brothers get quite late while returning from a fishing trip and anger him. Otets slaps Andrey around four to five times and upsets Ivan who runs away and climbs a tall tower in the forest by the beach (and trust me those slaps are for real and very very hard!). Once on the top, Ivan shouts that he is not a chicken and not afraid to jump off it. Otets while trying to dissuade him from jumping catches hold of loose plank of wood and falls to his death. The brothers drag his body somehow to the boat (using the skills taught by their father), cross the huge lake in boat by rowing and arrive at the point where they had left their car earlier but forget to anchor it. The boat swerves away because of the intermittent waves and the boat sinks along with Otets' body leaving the two brothers alone.

The direction by Andrey Zvyagintsev is focused on the details with hundreds of beautiful shots throughout the movie. The one towards the end where the boat is showed with Otets' body and later sinks is beyond words. As with American Beauty in which Thomas Newman's music amplifies the hold of the movie on you, in this one Andrey Dergatchev's music magnifies the dark shades of the movie combined with the overall glum feel of the movie. 'Final Titles' by Dergatchev is soulful to say the least.

There are movies which move you. This one shakes you up!!

(As a sad ending, Vladimir Garin, who played Andrey, got killed when he jumped off a tower by a lake side when challenged by his friends to do so. It was same tower showed in the opening scene. A haunting return indeed.)

(Wikipedia, though is probably the first source for us to know about many a things, is hugely biased in favour of 'Western topics'. You search for Andrey Dergatchev and get nothing. Similarly, a few days ago I was searching for Yuri. V. Gankovsky - a Russian scholar - and I got nothing!)


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