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Chant d’hiver – Surviving Time

Chant d’hiver – Otar Iosseliani

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The song of winter starts during the French Revolution, when heads were falling and the women of Paris took their darning along to watch the show. The setting then moves to the theatre of one of the many wars that traverse our time before settling in a contemporary Paris where “terror” has given rise to a state of chaos.

The brilliance of juxtaposing different eras and representing them with a light touch, which only apparently could be mistaken for naïveté, is well known to anyone familiar with the films of Otar Iosseliani. The occurrences and reoccurrences of History here make delicate references that do not correspond to specific stances: the good and the corrupt coexist in a vision of humanity that sees our era as an age of survival. If in Once Upon a Time There Was a Singing Blackbird the city was a place in which to create confusion, here it is crossed by opposing currents: the police and their informers respond to (quite likable) roller-skating pickpockets and arms dealers, using secret-service methods to control and repress any deviancy.

Now on his fourteenth film, Iosseliani has not lost a taste for irreverence: once again society and its rules are ridiculed by a gaze that unmasks all the contradictions of the system. Chant d’hiver quivers with his usual irony and mixes it with a sense of the comic that recalls the lessons of his beloved Buster Keaton. It is the desire to get some distance from stifling realism and encourage cartoon-style solutions. The message is clear: film is something other than reality. It is a gaze on the world, a desire to direct it, a desire to have it inhabited, even for a moment, by that unrestrainable impulse towards liberty that pushes people over the line in the sand. 

Carlo Chatrian
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