Ashik Kerib

I am trying to get my money’s worth out of my Mubi subscription, so I watched this 1986 Soviet Union film.

This was actually made in what is now Georgia and Azerbaijan, with the story based on Azerbaijan folklore. It also appears to have two audio tracks, one in Georgian and the other in Azerbaijani. The main track is probably Azerbaijani, with the Georgian track being narrated by one guy, and the problem is both are playing at the same time! So, along with reading English subtitles, things get messy.

The Minstrel

It all starts out with a simple story:

Poor Ashik Kerib plays the Bağlama at weddings and other celebrations. He falls in love with Magul-Megeri who is a daughter of a rich man but her father opposes since Ashik Kerib is poor and he expects rich prospects for his ‘daughter from heaven’. Ashik Kerib vows to wander for seven years to get rich or die. (from Wikipedia).

The story is obviously based on folklore, and gets pretty wiggy with all kinds of weird stuff happening, which is what I like. In one scene some women are holding submachine guns (even though this is set in ye olden times).

The Machine Gun Harem

One thing going on throughout the film is the use of fake moustaches and beards with even some women wearing them for some reason. Monobrows also seem to be important in folklore.

The villain of the story, the rich father-in-law-to-be.

It feels more like a play than a film, with lots of dramatic over-acting, dancing and prancing around, and groups of actors all together facing the camera.

“Play dat funky lute!”

Eric Idle?

The director, Sergei Parajanov, is actually well respected in film circles, but was somewhat mistreated by the Soviets and was imprisoned for five years in Siberia, partly because he was homosexual. The film ended with a tribute to the great Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky, a friend of his who had died two years previous.

Wonderful stuff, quite inventive and entertaining. I must seek out more Soviet era films.

Date watched: April 15th
Score: 8/10
Film count 2017: 59

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