‘What do we see when we look at the sky?’: The voice of a filmmaker against the tide | Culture


Faced with contemporary vertigo, the light of placidity. The cinema against the current, the stories of slow sediment, those that cost (or can cost) at the beginning due to their unusual forms, their lucid simplicity, their departure from the line, their crooked cinematographic calligraphy almost in disuse. Georgian Alexandre Koberidze has made one of those films: What do we see when we look at the sky?

Warning for faint-hearted sailors: not an easy work, lasting two and a half hours that can be turned into a ball due to its very particular methods of narration, visualization and sound. Now, contrary advice for daring sailors: a work of an overwhelming sincerity, noble, at bottom very elementary, narrated like a story for children, although it is not. A fantasy of love, of encounters and disagreements, in which football ends up having a fundamental relevance. And also, like what it always was to play ball: the passion of some boys and girls who seek and hide the ball in the street with the passion of battle. But not between enemies but between colleagues, giving every last drop of sweat.

Koberidze, in his second film – the first, unreleased in Spanish cinemas, Let the Summer Never Come AgainIt lasted 202 minutes, so in this one it has been cut a bit – it shows that you can try to do something new based on the old without having to be pretentious. A minimal story about a couple who fall in love at first sight, but then go unrecognized. A fantasy with the aroma of a children’s story that hardly tells anything and tells everything, that makes digression a peak of narrative freedom, that can make the viewer avoid and get involved in just a couple of images. With a staging of ascetic rigor, distanced interpretations, continuous fades to black that can make it even more choppy, and a narrative formula with two bases: a voice in off explanatory of what is not seen on the screen, like a story outside the field; and the exclusion of the dialogues of the protagonists, who speak in the image without being heard what they say, while that same voice in off tell what is being said. It sounds weird and it is. Also, fascinating.

With an extremely interesting final reflection on the artistic process and its social function, the film, which won the Critics’ Prize at the Berlin festival, looks into the mirror of another unconventional Georgian filmmaker, the Otar Iosseliani of Goodbye, solid ground (1999) and Monday in the morning (2002), with its delicate humor and silent comedy findings, between Buster Keaton and Jacques Tati. What do we see when we look at the sky ?: the passing of the existence of a people and of two lovers; the perplexity caused by a singular look.

WHAT DO WE SEE WHEN WE LOOK AT THE SKY?

Direction: Alexandre Koberidze.

Interpreters: Ani Karseladze, Giorgi Bochorishvili, Oliko Barbakadze.

Gender: fable. Georgia, 2021.

Duration: 150 minutes.

Premiere: January 5.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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