Close Up

22 October 2019: The Long Farewell


The Long Farewell
Kira Muratova, 1971/1987, 97 min
Russian with English subtitles

"Ostensibly the story of the strained relationship between a divorced translator and her teenaged son, who would rather live with his father in Siberia, the “film’s almost unbearable tension… is explored in a series of fluid, inventive sequences, which bring a visual sophistication – with acting and music to match – … [that] show Muratova [to be] streets ahead of her male contemporaries” (Ian Christie). Muratova’s important early feature, scripted by prominent feminist Natalya Ryazantseva, was deemed too aesthetic, personal and elitist by Soviet authorities, and was subsequently banned and its director was ejected from the filmmakers’ union." – Melbourne Cinematheque

"Long Farewells is a subtle psychological characterization of the relationship between a mother and her only son. Evgenia (Zinaida Sarko) is a kind of Jeanne Dielman of Odessa; since the departure of her husband, her hard-working life revolves around caring for her son Sasha-caring for him, dominating him and keeping him a little child. When Sasha is sent on a summer camping trip with his father, accompanying him on an archaeological expedition in the Caucasus Mountains, he returns home a new boy, resistant to his mother's adulations and ministrations. "Muratova tells private, family stories," Soviet film critic Andrei Plakhov writes, "but does so with such emotion and humanity that the intellectual dimension of these films goes far beyond that."" – BAMPFA

Part of our season on Kira Muratova