World starts anew in Cvitkovič’s Archeo
by Vladan Petkovic
10/10/2011 - Jan Cvitkovič's Archeo won awards for best film, director and cinematography at the Festival of Slovenian Film (see the news). It has no dialogue and in this respect resembles last year's big winner at the national awards, Janez Burger's Silent Sonata (aka Circus Fantasticus). Both films were produced by Staragara, but similiarities end there.
While Sonata is a loud, colourful allegory featuring elaborate sets and costume design, populated by circus characters (and including a scene of a fighter plane destroying a tank), Archeo is a stripped-down, spartan endeavour filmed entirely in exteriors and featuring only three protagonists.
The film opens with Man (Niko Novak), Woman (Medea Novak) and Boy (Tommaso Finzi) literally falling to the ground (or Earth?), one after the other in different spots. They have landed in an unfamiliar world and are trying to survive. The place is threadbare - it's all forests, hills, rivers and sea, without any settlements or even houses, and no occupants except animals. However, the characters' clothes, reminiscent of costume design in films in the vein of Mad Max, tell us that this is not the beginning of the world, but a new beginning for a post-apocalyptic world.
When the three characters meet, they display the basic human emotions: fear, hunger, sexual urge, curiosity. They have the natural need to group together (Woman is protective of Boy), and communicate (Man attracts Woman by rhythmically banging two stones together).
Described by some commentators as "Slovenia's Tree of Life", Archeo skillfully combines epic wide shots of nature with close-ups of the protagonists (camera by Jure Černec). It also features nods to Kubrick's 2001, including some amusingly ironic ones. But, unlike Malick's Palme d'Or winner, it runs a brisk and economically used 72 minutes.
With Cvitkovič's track record (awards at Venice, San Sebastian, Cottbus), Archeo should be a welcome addition to the festival circuit.