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CANNES 2024 Proiezioni speciali

Recensione: The Invasion

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- CANNES 2024: Sergei Loznitsa torna alla modalità del documentario d'osservazione in questo panorama della vita quotidiana ucraina durante l'attacco della Russia

Recensione: The Invasion

Questo articolo è disponibile in inglese.

Growing up in Europe in the 21st century, one felt an unassailable certainty that one’s life wouldn’t be affected by full-scale war. Glimpsing the faces of the Ukrainian population captured in The Invasion [+leggi anche:
intervista: Sergei Loznitsa
scheda film
]
, Sergei Loznitsa’s latest documentary, showing in Cannes Special Screenings, you can identify a similar certainty being shattered. In numerous private and public settings, amongst a wide age range (excluding the very oldest), these people look stricken, confused, hesitant. Yet Loznitsa and his production team never capture any emotional outbursts or alarming behaviours: remarks from on-screen subjects, when they come, are even-tempered and monotone. Essential tasks and activities, whether regular or far more demanding and emotive, are completed. All of these things strongly indicate resilience.

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With this film, shot over the past two years, commencing from the full-scale Russian invasion in early 2022, Loznitsa aims to convey the texture of everyday civilian life during wartime. There are few heart-in-mouth moments of peril, such as when public safety might be under threat from airstrikes (especially in highly urban areas), but rather, just the everyday occurrences that make up a functioning civil society – family time, education, celebration and commemoration – and the eerie and chilling resonance they might take amidst a high-tech, 21st-century war.

The rousing Maidan [+leggi anche:
trailer
scheda film
]
, Loznitsa’s document of Ukraine’s Maidan Uprising and Revolution of Dignity, made adroit use of intertitles and timestamps, grounding its pictorial splendour in the exact procession of events; here, we’re far more estranged from chronology or geographic detail, with the film’s narrative arc roaming from the city to exurban areas, where the on-screen figures find less safety in numbers. The Berlin-based filmmaker – who wasn’t present on location, preferring to direct the remote camera teams from his editing room – lets his caustic sense of humour show in the selective human detail picked up. The manner in which he displays spirited public addresses, often punctuated with the exhortation “glory to the heroes”, shows that Russian aggression must be matched with Ukraine’s own nationalist propaganda, and the crowds in insert shot are shown gazing and following along, as if hypnotised. Eastern Orthodox priests are brought out at rallies to indicate that, indeed, “God is on our side”, the cutting to their sudden appearance having a note of comic timing. Tough-looking, heavily armed guys in camo – who may be part of supporting militia, and not the official military – mill around, and you can feel that the non-combatants are quite at ease with their presence (in clinical settings like maternity and injury wards, practically all of the men are in army gear, as if that was now the official “male” uniform). Across the film’s two-and-a-half-hour running time, we have an inventory of all of the uncanny, faintly surreal acts that are normalised with one’s nation on the fighting front.

He is provocative in making Ukrainian people seem suggestible, where kitschy exhortations to national brotherhood are everywhere, and the accepted presence of Russia in the country previously – highlighted by an astonishing mass pulping sequence of books by classic Russian authors and Soviet-sympathising Americans like Jack London and Theodore Dreiser – is persona non grata. But roughly halfway through, Loznitsa shows us a high-rise housing block with a colossal hole blown through the middle, then a public bridge similarly cleaved in two. The atrocity of these attacks must engender a changed national character, however abrupt; Loznitsa’s rhetorical sleight of hand is showing first the stark effect and only then the originating cause.

The Invasion is a co-production by the Netherlands and France, staged by Atoms & Void, which also represents the international sales, and ARTE France.

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(Tradotto dall'inglese)

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