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The Forgiveness of Blood (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] (2011)

Refet Abazi , Tristan Halilaj , Joshua Marston  |  Unrated |  Blu-ray
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Refet Abazi, Tristan Halilaj, Sindi Lacej, Ilire Vinca Celaj
  • Directors: Joshua Marston
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Special Edition, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • DVD Release Date: October 16, 2012
  • Run Time: 109 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B008MPQ0WM
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #208,057 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

  • New high-definition digital transfer, approved by producer Paul Mezey, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • Audio commentary featuring director and cowriter Joshua Marston
  • Two new video programs: Acting Close to Home, a discussion between Marston and actors Refet Abazi, Tristan Halilaj, and Sindi Laçej, and Truth on the Ground, featuring new and on-set interviews with Mezey, Abazi, Halilaj, and Laçej
  • Audition and rehearsal footage
  • Trailer
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film writer Oscar Moralde

  • Editorial Reviews

    American director Joshua Marston broke out in 2004 with his jolting, Oscar-nominated Maria Full of Grace, about a young Colombian woman working as a drug mule. In his remarkable follow-up, The Forgiveness of Blood, he turns his camera on another corner of the world: contemporary northern Albania, a place still troubled by the ancient custom of interfamilial blood feuds. From this reality, Marston sculpts a fictional narrative about a teenage brother and sister physically and emotionally trapped in a cycle of violence, a result of their father’s entanglement with a rival clan over a piece of land. The Forgiveness of Blood is a tense and perceptive depiction of a place where tradition and progress have an uneasy coexistence, as well as a dynamic coming-of-age drama.

    Customer Reviews

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews
    17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
    Format:Blu-ray
    From the first lingering shot of the idyllic Albanian landscape, with majestic mountains in the background and windswept fields in the foreground, director Joshua Marston immerses the viewer in a powerful fictional tale about a very real issue -- the impact on the families who end up inheriting the "sins of the fathers" from violent blood feuds in one of the poorest European countries.

    The beginning of the story quickly sets up the jarring contradictions faced by contemporary Albanians -- horse-drawn carriages alongside motorized vehicles, livestock on the soccer fields, adults and elders clinging to ancient oral traditions while the younger generation is wrapped up in videogames, television, Internet-enabled computers, and handheld mobile devices.

    The greatest service Marston does is to shed light on this paradox as the Old clashes with the New, placing the seemingly unfathomable tradition of regulated blood feuds in human context. We see it played out to dramatic effect as a rivalry over land and access to a previously open road turns deadly. The key moment takes place off-camera, leaving it to our imaginations to determine whether it was truly an act of criminal murder or one of justifiable self defense. Emotions run high on both sides, so who is to blame and who is to be believed? The story is told through the eyes of young Nik, who must endure prolonged house arrest for what his father and uncle are accused of doing, and younger Rudina, who must become a primary income provider for her family, all of whom suddenly are tormented by an incident they neither participated in nor witnessed.
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    10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars Our Story Too November 1, 2012
    Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
    I ordered this film to try to understand more about the cultural background of a story from my own family lore. My grandmother told the story of "Zio Francesco" who was a shepherd in Calabria in the previous century. The local bandits (now they would be called organized crime) would come periodically to take one or two of his flock, but he was a poor man and the result was real hardship. Finally he informed the carabinieri (local police) where they could find the bandits. They escaped, and the man knew that he could no longer leave the house without being killed. So, each day, he would send his small son out with the sheep. One day there was a thick fog, and the boy was afraid, so the man went out hoping to be veiled by the fog. But the bandits caught him and burned him alive.
    Albania is the only country that codified in writing the ancient vendetta law, called the Kanon, but it held the force of custom through wide swaths of the Mediterranean. Before Albania was Communist, before it was Muslim, before it was Christian, the vendetta law ruled. When Albania fell to the Turks, many Albanians fled to Italy and settled in their own villages in Calabria. (My grandmother callled them the "Grecchi.") It was about that time or a little later that the Kanon was written down, back in Albania. I don't know whether the Italo-Albanians ever adopted the written Kanon, or if their customs have changed over the years. Under Communism, the Kanon was suppressed, but since the fall of Communism it has been brought back, though many question whether a custom that was suppressed that long can ever return exactly as it was. The movie belongs to this period, and that helps to explain why there are so many opinions expressed in the film about how the Kanon should be enforced.
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    4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars Blood Feud November 14, 2012
    Format:DVD
    The concept of blood feuds between families evolving from incidences that in most societies would be handled by an impartial legal system is instead in many parts of the world handled by informal and traditional reparations ranging from money to another life to be taken. Such is the case in Albania, long known as the North Korea of Europe, where some families still utilize a Kanun of traditional oral laws to resolve disputes and save face (honor). That repute is rapidly changing as new generations embrace a more open and communicative society - yet, resistance, as to be expected, still exists from the elders. Thus is our story.

    The naturalistic acting which far exceeds what trained and experienced actors would have produced greatly enhances the believability of the story. That, coupled with fine cinematography and research, results in an engaging film experience.
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    1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
    Format:Blu-ray
    Joshua Marston, best known as the director of drug mule story MARIA FULL OF GRACE, gives us here a poignant depiction of blood feuds in northern Albania. The script was cowritten by Andamion Murataj, the film was shot on location, and the actors are all Albanians, some of them amateurs, speaking the authentic Gheg dialect of their region.

    Nik (Tristan Halilaj) is in his last year of high school and dreams of opening an internet/computer game café in his small town. His sister Rudina (Sindi Lacej) hopes to go on to university. Their dreams are dashed, however, when their father (Refet Abazi) kills a neighbour in a dispute over land. To avoid revenge attacks from the dead man's family, the males of the family are forced to stay inside their home at all times, a situation that could last for years while the community mediates the feud. With the father out of work, Rudina is forced to drop out of school, deliver a bread route, and buy contraband cigarettes to sell at a profit.

    Marston and his cowriter are clearly interested in depicting the intersection of two worlds in Albania: mobile phones and cheap motorbikes alongside ancient laws that hold a man's honour sacred. What weakens the film, however, is that nowhere is it made clear that blood feuds are not a typical feature of contemporary Albanian life: while they briefly erupted in the early 1990s after the fall of Communism, and some families still live under them, it is very unusual for one to start today. Without mentioning that things have changed, this film misrepresents Albania and misleads Western viewers towards a Boratish caricature.

    Note how other reviews here and elsewhere tend to commend the film more for "teaching them something about Albania" than for cinematography or acting.
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    Most Recent Customer Reviews
    5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended (Very Well-Acted & Interesting)
    Found this to be a very well-acted, interesting drama. It was awesome to see young actors at the center of the story, Tristan Halilaj is great as Nik and this is definitely one to... Read more
    Published 3 months ago by Blood
    3.0 out of 5 stars Editing and Characterization
    During its initial stages, the film had me hooked. Beautiful cinematography, intellectual themes, an education in Albanian customs, and solid acting. Read more
    Published 8 months ago by Clayton
    2.0 out of 5 stars tedious direction
    Pathetic and contrived since the film starts, it leaves the viewer about as unsatisfied as eating at a fast food dump. Read more
    Published 11 months ago by Bartok Kinski
    5.0 out of 5 stars great movie
    This was a great body of work. The acting Writing. Directing and producing. Were all on point a true dipiction of what went on in Albania years ago and sometimes today
    Published 14 months ago by nikhaha
    5.0 out of 5 stars This Film by Joshua Marston Really Held My Attention
    I learned more from this film than I did with Maria Full of Grace, Marston's first film, because I have traveled and worked in Columbia and other Latin American countries. Read more
    Published 17 months ago by Zarathustra
    4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating movie
    It was fascinating to watch this movie and learn about vendetta's still going on, in remote Northern Albania. Read more
    Published 18 months ago by Ani Matson
    5.0 out of 5 stars Held Captive by Ancient Customs
    This foreign film is worth watching for a number of reasons. One, it is intelligently crafted around a very compelling story that covers an on-going land dispute between two... Read more
    Published 18 months ago by Ian Gordon Malcomson
    5.0 out of 5 stars A searing drama of the struggle between the Old and the New
    I thought Joshua Marston's 'Maria, full of Grace' was an excellent film and had made a note to see all his other films. Read more
    Published 18 months ago by Raghu Nathan
    4.0 out of 5 stars Blood Feud, Albanian Style
    This is an unusual film from Albania and it deals with a blood feud. It is about a pair of neighbouring families who live in a rural village, Mark is the patriarch of one family... Read more
    Published 20 months ago by Tommy Dooley
    4.0 out of 5 stars "Vestigial Medieval Coda"
    A subtitled drama of clannish taboos and sudden violence in the rural countryside of a little known Eastern European society. Read more
    Published 21 months ago by Cary B. Barad
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