If you take a closer look at Abuladze’s artistic style, you can see in it the distinct influence of Latin American “magical realism” - the genre in which Marquez, Borges, and Cortazar worked. In their works, the authors deliberately blur the boundary between the real and the metaphysical - everything that is beyond the control of logic goes into the category of magic, rooted in ancient Indian cults. There is also a lot of magic and ritual in “Repentance” - the multilayered picture is pervaded by many allusions and parables tied to the Georgian national color.
Because the picture turned out to be metaphorical through and through - dark, almost biblical scenes come to life as if on Bosch's canvases. “The Destroyer of the People,” Valaam, unexpectedly transforms itself into the much different from him “Father of the People” Varlam Avaridze. The continuous chain of stories is complemented by vivid musical metaphors, for example, the anthem of the Jews coming to execution, from Verdi's Nabucco opera or The Wedding March by Mendelssohn, which is accompanied by an exemplary scene where the investigator and the blind lady justice go hand in hand defiantly out of the courtroom . So the director hints at the "justice" of the Soviet court.
Such political allusions in "Repentance" abound. The main episode, considered by many as anti-Stalinist (anti-dictatorial), was a dramatic moment with logs in which little Ketevan tries to find his father’s name on the trunks of trees brought from the places of exile (GULAG). Perhaps for this reason, the picture was held on the shelf for three years, while perestroika only gained momentum: in the opinion of officials and the KGB, it was dangerous to show the picture to the unprepared viewer. “Repentance” appeared on the screens at a time when Soviet society was in dire need of something new, and in this sense Abuladze gave a lot of food for thought and action. “Repentance is, first of all, an attempt to finally rethink your past, look at it with uncomplicated propaganda and give an opportunity to examine the distorted history without“ rose-colored glasses ”.
The climax of the film sums up the storyline describing the history of the Avaridze family, in which the son of Tornike (Merab Ninidze), the grandson of the leader of the people of Varlam, puts a bullet in his head, trying to atone for the sins of his bloodthirsty relatives. The subsequent discarding of the corpse of Avaridze Sr.’s father cannot be attributed to repentance — it is a gesture of despair of the stricken parent. Tornike's tragedy is true repentance - he became the first member of the family who could not stand the cruel truth cleverly disguised by several generations of the Avaridze family.
Constantly jumping over the plot from the pseudo-reality into the memories and dreams of the main characters is explained by an unusual plot structure. The picture includes several basic narrative lines, as if strung together on the basis of the doll. First comes the “pseudo-realistic”, in which the main character Ketevan Barateli (Zeinab Botsvadze) - the widow-pastry chef is attached to memories of her childhood and the once happy family at the very beginning of the film under a leisurely obituary dedicated to the local town governor Varlam Avaridze (Avtandil Maharidze). “Repentance” ends in the same cozy kitchen with Ketevan and its cakes, decorated with the once destroyed church and a question from a pilgrim: “Tell me, will this road lead to the temple? - This is Varlam Street. This street does not lead to the temple, Ketevan will answer. “Then why is she needed?” What is the road if it does not lead to the temple? ”
Another story line includes the history of the relationship of the young, ambitious mayor, who has just assumed the position, with the intelligent family of the artist Sandro Barateli. This is a kind of an allusion to the difficult relationship of power with the creators. In this union, alas, almost always, the creator has a tragic role, unless the wishes of the powerful customer are taken into account. Sandro Barateli did not want to make a deal with his conscience and paid for it, like his entire family. Prophetic dreams Nino Barateli, the artist's wife, open to the viewer the metaphysical side of the picture. The sad fate of the ancient church, whose walls were so guarded by the Baratel family and subsequently destroyed - personifies the simple human values destroyed by the barbarians, whose carriers were the artist's family.
And finally, the third part - the process of "repentance" of the descendants of the dictator. He was spontaneously initiated by Ketevan Barateli on the occasion of Varlam’s funeral, having decided in a very original way to restore the honor and dignity of the family he had once repressed. She took the liberty of committing a desperate act, having three times dug up the body of the already buried Varlam, in a sign of disagreement to betray that earth for his grave sins, which brought on the wrath of the relatives of the deceased. At the trial, she exposes the entire family of Avaridze, who has killed many innocent people during the long years of her rule, and tries to open her eyes to the truth.
Accept and not push aside this very truth can only be a representative of the younger generation, Tornike. He had not yet had time to taste the hereditary power with a bloody taste, as his parents, who stubbornly continued to justify the cruelty of his grandfather. But in the depths of his heart, Abel admitted that he was wrong, afraid to admit it to himself and to his son. This contradiction devoured him from within and was reflected in the disturbing dreams in which Varlam appeared before him in various demonic images. The film finale unambiguously hints that one can only dream of repentance of dictators and their henchmen, which means that there can be no talk of the road to the Temple, since the mistakes of the past continue to wander in people's minds.
Quotes from the movie
1. “- Tell me, will this road lead to the temple? - This is Varlam Street. Not this street leads to the temple. “Then why is she needed?” What is the road if it does not lead to the temple? ”
2. “Are you really tired of lying to the end ?! You would only save the well-being, for this you gnaw through the throat everyone who is not guilty of a criminal will declare normal to be crazy! Is there really nothing holy in you ?! Conscience does not torment you? "
3. "And what can you have against the Truth?"