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Review of the film «The Vyrai» 

 

Genre: anti-utopia

Country of production: Belarus

Year: 2011

Duration: 11 min

Director: Collective Unconscious ________________________________________________________________

Dystopian genre has a long tradition in cinema. Ever since Fritz Lang’s hallmark film, dystopia remains a powerful artistic device of warning against stereotypes of the perfect social system. It has been over 30 years after laying of the Orwell’s novel “Nineteen Eighty-Four” scenes but dystopian genre has not been becoming irrelevant. Dystopia is a world picture of a good society, the structure of which is unacceptable according to author’s ethic standards.

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«The Vyrai» crew

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So it is year 3009 in Belarus. Lives of ordinary people are reduced to forced labor. Ideology acts in addition to the usual means of coercion. Ideology is designed to increase productivity, to convince people there is no alternative to the existing social relations. So, we see a bomb shelter or bunker, which is a workshop for production of hallucinogenic leguminous “Vyrai-7”. Meager fruit pass the stages of rectification, purification, refining and are packed in in elaborate cartons. Primitive technology does not require education, special skills, it requires obedience primarily. However, the warden is stood above all this. He does not miss the case to use his official status so natural for him  to his own advantage.

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Primitive technology does not require education, special skills, it requires obedience primarily.

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 But who is above the supervisor? The warden reports on the implementation of the production plan to the central office, to the Anchorperson himself, through the telephone. All the time we can see the speaker, ie Big Brother on TV, hanging under the ceiling of the hopper.

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«Big Brother» on TV, hanging under the ceiling of the hopper

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It is broadcasted the disturbing news outside the bunker. Аgricultural machinery had been intensifying offensive. The position remains hard on the eastern and northern fronts. More and more cities and towns are lost forcedly. The enemy is tightening а noose. Nevertheless the Resistance is standing one’s ground heroically and even undertakes effective counterattacks on the front lines of rebellious agricultural machinery. More strong measures are required to take. Labour hours are increased and ration norms are scrimped upon numerous demands of workers. “Vyrai-7” can be given now the children up to three years. There is no danger to children’s health according to the latest tests of The Central Research Institute. News have a happy end. Government’s program was overfulfilled and victory is inevitable.

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 ominous imagery of stranger’s musical band
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 After the news workers have a while to take “Vyrai-7”. A bright shared trip of brigade begins. Participants retrieve freedom of will through the hallucinogenic state. It does not happen immediately, but insensibly. People develop a liking for freedom and self-esteem. It’s resulted boomerang effect. Human memory comes workers flighting from the reality, escapism and bondage of the will instead of. They refuse to put on the shackles upon the expiration of the drug.

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Final scene of the trip
 

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A spontaneous riot leads to facile victory. Neither the warden nor the Speaker not is able to resist. Since all their power was based on lack of will and disunity of people.

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all their power was based on lack of will and disunity of people

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It is essential to look close at background social environment of filmmakers of “The Vyrai” for the film’s idea deep insight. The film starts with Belarusian Soviet symbols. It has to be said that such artistic presentation limits an audience member in interpretation of further story line. «This film is about Belarus,»  filmmaker is shouting through a megaphone to the audience.

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Caricature of the film’s authors : «We never drop out, as all they’d  engorged hallucinogens!

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Caricature of Belorussian background: We’d seamed everything: science, culture, politic, education, economic!

The Republic of Belarus — a country in Eastern Europe, a wreckage of the former Soviet empire. Liberal front, which had taken over during the first years of state independence, had demonstrated inequality to economic collapse. Authoritarian regime of Lukashenko had held a course for restoration of the state monopoly in all spheres of public life of the small country. The conservation of public relations had been veneered by the sign of stability. The new populist regime had not invent anything new, that would not had been described in the anti-utopian genre anthologies. World-old patrials suppression methods like struggling with the enemy from within and without, government monopoly over information, people’s economic dependence from a strong centralized allocation policy, demolition of rights and freedoms etc. had been employed.
Therefore it’s no coincidence that basically the film is set in a bunker, a dead-end closed space, where from just no exit.

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In order to free hands from fetters, it was enough to be mind to do this.

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It would seem such society not able to hold a promise as well as ant’s or bee’s kind. In general the centuries-old history of humanity is the history of autocratic anthills with interchangeable ant dams or that disappears through the external threatens.  Obviously, according to the authors’ conceptualization of “The Vyrai”, viable society can exist on the basis of love only, but not exploitation. Mutual attraction between man and woman is capable to generate dignity. In turn the dignity can cause need to independence, i.e. freedom. This is the chain — the fuze, blasting a riot. Thus, resolution of internal conflict precedes the resolution of the external in the film. As the climactic scene shows, confinement of the main characters appears an illusion, a mirage. In order to free hands from fetters, it was enough to be mind to do this. In the final scene the bunker pass from a pervasive the main characters universe into the media microcosm that had fallen into oblivion.

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Aliaksandr Martyniuk,
critic, festival organizer, filmmaker,
baron  of Nomadic Film Club
 
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