Release Date: July 27th, 2005 (NYC-Film Forum) by First Run/Icarus Films.
Directed by Pirjo Honkasalo.
In Russian,Chechen,Arabic and Finnish with subtitles.
BASIC PREMISE: A documentary about three locations with melancholic situations during the Chechen conflict
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: This is a very visually-stunning documentary. The cinematography captures the stark, depressing living conditions in each location. The first location is a Russian military academy for boys. Every frame is filled with a little sadness, most of which is implied through the dark colors and the musical score. There is one moment when the boys get teary-eyed in their bunks, but they never actually cry. There is very little that actually happens in this location as well as the other two, which are at a post-war town and a refugee camp for children. What actually goes is internal; in other words, it is inside the children's minds. Many of the depressing images are surprisingly haunting and even slightly engaging. However, after a while the melancholic scenes becomes tedious and their strong effect diminishes. It would have been much more entertaining if Honkasalo were to pick one location and invest the entire film on the many different aspects of its melancholy. There is not enough dialogue to consistently entertain. Yes, the haunting images do speak for themselves but there is not enough focus on the children themselves--and they are more important in the long run than the scenery around them.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: Ultimately, this documentary lives up to its title. It is easy to feel a general sadness even after the end. In some way, going through these emotions is a form of catharsis--especially if you or somebody you know has been through any of it. Not every form of art is meant to uplift you--there was even a "Blue" period in art when there were many sad paintings that are in museums until this very day. This is a very "blue" film, but at least it is effective in creating these emotions through its images. Unfortunately, there is no insight or anything said that is thought-provoking.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Not enough emphasis on the children themselves.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 3
THE BOTTOM LINE: Although it lacks content and eventually ceases to be engaging, at its haunting cinematography and sad musical score consistently capture the sad spirit of the children in each location.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (2nd Run)