John Cope wrote:
No need to apologize for your response to the film, Queiroz. It's certainly a valid and considered one and I deeply appreciate that. I also deeply appreciate that your first posts to the forum have been so considered and substantive. I thank you for that. But, as you say, it may simply be one of those things where we must agree to disagree. For instance I was very surprised by this reaction:
(I was embarrassed when Anne starts to weep when Aleksander tells her he has killed, after which they begin to make love)
For me this has always been one of the stand out moments (I guess it stood out to you as well for opposite reasons) and one of the most deeply and directly emotionally compelling. I find it to totally offer up the psychological nuance and insight you mentioned is lacking. If I remember the way that scene is shot (and I haven't seen it for awhile now so I could have it wrong) we are looking into the cab from outside at the couple as they share this moment of intimacy and breakdown. The effect of the city's passing reflection on the glass is sustained and obscures our clear vision of them. It's just a moment, too, a crack or fissure in Aleksandr's enforced calm . The smallness of the details--that Manchevski understood to capture this from a further remove and not to be right on top of them in the back seat--have always resonated with me and moved me deeply.
It may be very true that the full range of political reality is not satisfactorily represented in Before the Rain
. But really, when is it ever outside of a purely polemical work; and even then you recognize the slant you've been given.
I don't know that I can elaborate much more on this, but I can say I could not possibly disagree more with Queiroz on this film: it packs a serious punch and is one of the single most evocative and powerful films on the futility and sheer insanity of inter-ethnic hatred and violence. To see families torn apart, villages divided in two, where neighbors are willing to slit the throats of each other because of some arbitrary notion of difference is such a peculiarly human catastrophe. Of course Aleksandr would search for comfort in the breast of a woman he loved upon confronting the emotions that go with allowing yourself to acknowledge participation in the most horrific acts imaginable. what else is there? what do you expect him to do?
as for oldsheperd's Q: you do have it in the proper order....that took me a bit to figure out, but once I did i realized what was what and the light bulb went on. Rare is the film I want to rewatch immediately upon finishing, and not because I did not understand it, but because I wanted to see it again with a full understanding of the narrative and appreciate the details and thought that went into the composition. Violence of the sort seen in Yugoslavia is so utterly senseless, it almost makes sense to try and muck with convention as much as possible when exploring it via film.
As for the restaurant scene, I don't see any reason to try and read too much into it other than the obvious: the threads of hatred that cut through the village in Macedonia were just as taut and capable of snapping in London or wherever else natives of the region can be found. I personally know a couple of Croats who emigrated because of the war, and the seething hatred that they don't even try to mask when talking about Serbs is truly frightening, and you get the sense they would kill a man right then and there if he revealed himself to be Serbian. Scary scary shit.