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The Forgiveness of Blood (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
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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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
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 morePublished on July 11, 2014 by bloodclay
Pathetic and contrived since the film starts, it leaves the viewer about as unsatisfied as eating at a fast food dump. Read morePublished on November 12, 2013 by Bartok Kinski
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 todayPublished on August 15, 2013 by nikhaha
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 morePublished on May 7, 2013 by Zarathustra
It was fascinating to watch this movie and learn about vendetta's still going on, in remote Northern Albania. Read morePublished on April 19, 2013 by Concerned Consumer
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 morePublished on April 8, 2013 by Ian Gordon Malcomson
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 morePublished on April 6, 2013 by Raghu Nathan
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 morePublished on February 1, 2013 by Tommy Dooley
A subtitled drama of clannish taboos and sudden violence in the rural countryside of a little known Eastern European society. Read morePublished on January 2, 2013 by Cary B. Barad