Saturday, 21 February 2015

REVIEW - MAIDAN (SERGEI LOZNITSA)


Already a unique and essential artefact, Sergei Loznitsa's Maidan is a film bolstered equally by its political power and its artistic merit. A procession of straightforward shots, their technical set-up seemingly functional, each image accumulates gravity and importance both individually and as a piece in Loznitsa's whole. Or perhaps that is the Ukrainian people's whole: Maidan is a dutiful chronicle of the social unrest they both responded to and sparked off in dismay at their government's policies and ideologies, a compassionate feature, but one driven by honesty, and thus one that wisely avoids descending into propaganda. You may derive whatever you wish from Loznitsa's shots, though, so complex are the real-life situations here, so expansive is the action he captures with his camera. Maidan is a masterwork in mere framing: Loznitsa and his cinematographers, working in the moment, 'guerrilla-style', show the cramped and enormous crowd - individual faces clearly visible - but also the surroundings - maybe only a distant glimpse of adjacent buildings, maybe at an angle that exposes their towering, empowering presence. We become familiar with both the people and their physical situation, attuned to the emotive pull of their plight and also aware of its context. As violence erupts, Loznitsa perhaps accidentally discovers art in the conflict, or perhaps that is only what a viewer may attribute onto it. These shots are so dense and so vital that they necessitate multiple viewings; this excellent film will reward the viewer willing to revisit it time and time again.