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Repentance
(Monanieba)
USSR (Georgian) - 1986
Directed by Tengiz Abuladze


Fearing that much was lost in the translation, we can say that this surreal tale seemed to refer to Stalin's reign of terror.  Set in a provincial Georgian village, the local mayor has just died as the film begins.  Despite repeated attempts to bury this important man, his body continues to appear, in an exhumed state, in the garden of his family's home.  We discover that a woman who has lost loved ones as a result of the former mayor's brutality is responsible for the exhumations.  She refuses to allow the man the dignity of burial. The film allows her to prove her case, in a way, illustrating through surreal imagery her impressions of the mayor, and following her logic to its conclusion, that he must not be forgiven.

We found Repentance to be a bit challenging. We hesitate to criticize it for the fact that we believe it to be the third of a trilogy and we haven't viewed the first two.  It could be that there was a subtle humor to the film that didn't translate.   This film was made during the glasnost period.  The social commentary is overt, as though challenging the "open window" policy in an almost confrontational way.   Varlam (Avtandil Makharadze), the mayor, is a   character that seems to be a composite of Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin.   Katevan (Zeinab Botsvadze), the woman who has exhumed Varlem, embodies the Georgian culture, symbolized by the beautiful little "church" confections she makes.   She reminds the people of the town that to bury their past is to forgive those that ruined the lives of so many.

Repentence won the Special Jury Prize at Cannes (1986).

Runtime:  151 minutes


Guest Comments

From:  "Kathy"

"I never get tired of watching this movie. It is a real eye opener.  It starts off with the mayor of a little town dying. It's good it was released during 1984 as it is very much like Orwell's 1984 movie. Surealistic, dark humor, lots of doublespeak.  If you'd like to find out what it was like tolive under a combination of Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini, with madness thrown into the equation too, this movie is it. Part of a trilogy.  I'm still trying to find out the titles of the other two movies in the trilogy so I can buy them and watch them too!  Excellent. An aquired taste. Trajic. Not for the faint at heart!"

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