“I work in a cemetery.” The film that “buried” all past Ukrainian cinema
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The new film “I work in a cemetery” was released on wide screens, was triumphantly shown at the “Molodist” festival and became a new starting point for Ukrainian cinema.
Ukrainian cinema, but rather a national art house. It will no longer be possible to shoot long shots after it, where nothing happens, but the author assumes a “poetic” vision of reality. And here it turned out to be an excellent author's film and quite commercial, because it finds a lively response from a wide audience – which is why the correspondent of Focuswas a witness both just in the cinema and at the premiere of the Molodist festival.
Focus, in principle, follows the development of domestic cinema. We can say that we already have high-quality genre films: the historical action film The Raven Berkut, the fantasy The Stronghold, the military drama Cyborgs, the successful comedy Crazy Wedding. Or, on the other hand, the award-winning festival film “The Tribe”. But few things fell into the golden mean – between genre and festival cinema. And so it happened! The tragicomedy My Thoughts Are Quiet (2020) is closest in style of presentation to the dramedy “I work in a cemetery”: due to the successful combination of good literary material and entertainment. These two films are a new benchmark for national cinema.
The author of the script “I work in a cemetery” is a popular blogger and writer Pavel Belyansky (Pate). He actually worked in a graveyard for a monument company and posted his client stories on Facebook, building a fan base of a couple tens of thousands of dedicated readers. In 2016, Belyansky released the book “I work in a cemetery” and has already taken pre-orders for it. In his case, Facebook worked to the fullest as a promotion mechanism.
Aleksey Taranenko acted as co-author of the script and director-debutant of “Cemetery”. Together with Pavel Belyansky, he did a great job of melting down the collection into an almost ideal scenario for a full meter: dozens of characters were cut, a few were left. A charismatic protagonist has been found, his main line is overcoming his tragedy and other challenges.
What is wrong with national cinema in general
Three years ago, at the festival-competition of young filmmakers “Kinooglyad” I was struck by one moment – the main “hero” of most films was infantilism. It was a mass phenomenon – both among young movie characters who do not know where to put their children, and older “boys” and “girls” who cannot establish contact with their families, because until old age they are captivated by children's complexes and nostalgia for toys.
In the theory of the American psychologist Eric Berne, who discovered three-act analysis in the book “Games People Play” (1964), the main phases of human ego development are as follows: child, parent, adult. The first two are widely represented in our cinema, and the third category is a disaster. This can also be seen in the films of mature masters, such as director Yekaterina Gornostai, who showed the film “Stop-Earth” last year, where infantilism is the main “friend” of both high school students and their parents.
Infantilism is malignant childhood disease, unwillingness to grow up. In the film “I work in a cemetery” a terrible medicine is used against this – the death of children. The film shows several such stories where children died, including through oversight.
And the main character, the Kyiv architect Sasha (actor Vitaliy Saliy), is hiding in a monument production company for this reason. He is ironic, cynical – this is his form of protection. But the initial impression that he is a rag is deceptive.
Story good luck: the enchanting moment in the movie “I work in a cemetery”
There are three main storylines in the movie “I work in a cemetery” .
First – Sasha and clients. For example, one girl needs a monument for Seva the cat. Sasha offers to burn the cat's corpse, and pour the ashes into a flask from under a glass hourglass: “Cooking a soft-boiled egg is half a Seva.” Conclusion of the owner of the animal: “You are evil. You cannot work with people.”
Another client, an old man, wants to be buried next to his wife. He orders a monument to himself. And even ready to die in a week. “For the first time I see such self-discipline,” Sasha is surprised.
Businesswoman Lena (Polish actress Victoria Gorodetskaya) is unhappy with the monument to her eight-year-old son who died of the flu, because she needs a boy alive, not dead …
Second line: Sasha and family. His ex-wife is already married (new husband is a cop). They have a teenage daughter. The daughter seems to want to establish contact with her father, but something prevents them from communicating normally.
Third line: Sasha and the bandits. The bandits want to squeeze Sasha's boss, the director of the cemetery, Petrovich (Viktor Zhdanov), from his lucrative position. Their leader (Aleksey Tritenko) moves from threats to actions – beatings, robberies and burying alive.
So: here, for the first time in our cinema, one thing is used – a meeting at the intersection point of three events associated with each of the three storylines: an attempt to have sex, a showdown with a daughter, a fire from a gang attack. It's just a fabulous moment! This has not happened in our cinema for thirty years!
The hero quickly and metaphorically extinguishes the flame with a fire extinguisher. He knows how to extinguish external fires quite well, but he cannot extinguish the internal fire in any way. Neither religion can help him here, nor friends. But you can’t refuse a sense of humor – which, however, you can’t overcome grief.
In general, the film “I work in a cemetery” shows that a spiritual catastrophe has occurred in Ukraine – people do not trust anyone, zero spiritual practices, not a single prayer. There is one Orthodox priest in the picture, and he is presented in a satirical light. The amount of absurdity associated with death in the tape grows exponentially as the action progresses. It turns out that Ukraine in this sense is a country of total ignorance.
This gloomy theme in the film “I work in a cemetery” is discharged by black humor. Phrases of cemetery workers: “Our clients are calm, customers are finished”, “Don't worry, I'll make a monument as for myself”.
Film “I work at a cemetery”. One disadvantage, but it is also a plus
The dotted line connects the picture into a single whole voice-over of the narrator. Personally, I thought it was the voice of Sasha's daughter. But it turns out that this is the voice of the deceased little son of the protagonist. Perhaps this is the film's only flaw. I asked the audience at the discussion of the tape during the festival “Molodist”: “Who believes that the off-screen voice belongs to the daughter of the protagonist?” Half the audience raised their hands. “And who believes that this is the voice of his dead boy?” also half. That is, the idea of the authors was not obvious to everyone.
Why? The authors do not immediately want to report this fact, but the voice of a boy and a girl are in principle indistinguishable. Hence the confusion. But, one way or another, the voice itself in the film “I work in a cemetery” connects the disparate stories of many characters quite well.
And most importantly, despite the terry atheism of what is happening, the voice of a child from the other world gives the picture an exit to a mystical level . The authors simply needed to convey this idea more clearly to the audience. After all, this is the voice of an angelic son, who, as best he can, is trying to help his father solve his problems.
But dad himself in the final copes well with all the problems that have piled on him – Sasha manages to cut the Gordian knot of all troubles with one cunning action. This is a very clever move: how to use those who are against you to your advantage. Go to the cinema, make sure – it will be unexpected! Nothing superman – sleight of mind and no fraud. But at the same time, finally, in our national cinema, Sasha solves problems like a real man! And everything is logical – you immediately believe in it, this is how things are done with us … But what a dodger! Sasha's formula: shell-shocked by grief – helping his own kind – victory over fate. It seems to me that right now such a hero is needed by everyone.
Of course, for the famous Ukrainian actor Vitaly Saliy, this is a breakthrough role. She is the hundredth, if you count all his films and series. Vitaly, finally, waited for a real hero, in whom he invested all his talent! In the film “I work in a cemetery” Saliy is extremely natural and accurate. And when his hero runs around the stadium at the beginning of the film, and then smokes (!). And when he is already just running, getting rid of a bad habit. In both cases, there is a clear explanation for this.
The film “I work in a cemetery” is poignant and funny. People in the hall often laughed. Then, of course, they cried. So, everything is as it should be: the swing of emotions works properly here.
- Focus is preparing an interview with the main culprit behind the success of the film “I work in a cemetery” – the author of the book of stories of the same name and screenwriter – Pavel Belyansky, who has been fighting in the ranks of the Armed Forces of Ukraine for more than one month. Moreover, his call sign is the same as his childhood and literary nickname – Pate.