The White Bird with a Black Mark

This is an epic film (originally shown in 70mm) whose title refers to a Ukrainian folk figure. A man opens what turns out to be a “Pandora's Box” of evils, and is transformed into a bird. He must suffer this metamorphosis until the ills of the world are cured. The metaphor is clear: man can find happiness on earth only after he destroys all misery and evil. The story of the film is centered around one family, in the borderland area of Bukovina, spanning the decade 1939-1949. It is a time of deprivation and suffering for the peasants. War, the changes of power, devastation, are daily experiences - a succession of violent, horrifying episodes evokes the savagery of those times. Ilyenko's imagery might be considered too rich, and he doesn't always succeed in following a clear linear plot. The continuous run of political change is so complicated that the spectator is carried away more by the fading beauty of the ancient Slavonic cultural setting, by the extraordinary visual spectacle and its settings. His images are burning with passion; the use of color, sound, and motion is full of innovation. It is a lyrical chronicle of a whole historical period - as unexpected, rhythmically extreme and fragmented as a dream.

Director Yuri Ilyenko is best known in this country for his cinematography in Paradjanov's Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (1964).

This page may by only partially complete. For additional information about this film, view the original entry on our archived site.