The Judgement: a haunting tale from the mountains
by Saara Vahermägi
- After directing one of Bulgaria's most successful films, The World Is Big and Salvation Lurks Around the Corner, Stephan Komandarev is back with his new feature, The Judgement
Stephan Komandarev's The Judgement [+see also:
interview: Stephan Komandarev
film profile] tells the story of Mitio (Assen Blatechki), a milk-truck driver who lives in a poor Bulgarian village near the Turkish border with his son Vasko (Ovanes Torosian). Life is not easy for Mitio – he has recently lost his wife, and the dairy he works for goes bankrupt. Left without a job, he grows desperate to find some work, as he has a mortgage on his house, and the bank is threatening to evict him and his son. An opportunity presents itself when he runs into “The Captain” (Predrag Manojlovic), a former commander from Mitio’s years doing military service. The Captain offers him a job smuggling immigrants over the Bulgarian-Turkish border; Mitio accepts, but it comes at a price – aside from the job being illegal, he has to get the migrants past a cliff called The Judgement, which brings back painful memories from his military past.
Screened in the CinEast Festival’s Cinéscope programme, The Judgement is a drama focusing on the relationship between a father and his son. Despite Mitio’s efforts, Vasko sees him as a failure – he failed to keep his mother alive, they are now one step away from ending up on the streets, and the conflict between the father and son escalates further when Vasko finds out about his father’s secret from the time when he was doing military service. Yet, even though he accuses his father of being to blame for the hardships they are going through, it is clear that there is still love between the two of them.
The backdrop to The Judgement is the hauntingly picturesque Rhodope Mountains. The film features many breathtaking views of the mountains – so many, in fact, that one could say that nature becomes the third protagonist of the movie. The inner struggles of a father, his complicated relationship with his son and the lonely mountains hiding secrets from the past – all this lends Komandarev’s latest drama a rather Nordic feel. The Judgement is therefore a Scandinavian-esque story about a man in search of reconciliation with himself and with his son. Will he make peace? The answer, of course, lies in the mountains.