of Macedonia); 1999; Not Rated; 80 Minutes
Lazar Ristovski: Santa Claus
Nikola Ristanovski: Kuzman
Vlado Jovanovski: The Barber Prophet
Sofija Kunovska: The Sister
Dejan Acimovic: The Priest
Petar Temelkovski: Brother Petar
Emil Ruben: The Godfather
Irena Ristic: The Girl
Toni Mihajlovski: Man with Green Hair
Produced by Darko
Mitrevski; Directed and screenwritten by Aleksander
Popovski and Darko Mitrevski
by DAVID KEYES
"The future is as screwed up as the past."
a prophesier warns us in the first minutes of "Goodbye 20th
Century," the introductory film by Macedonian filmmakers
Aleksander Popovski and Darko Mitrevski. The belief, as
detailed in three separate time periods, is that mankind
has reached its climax, growing so hastily insane by the
minute that not even Santa Claus can escape the lunacy.
Images that flash in our minds carry with them bizarre sights
and nonsensical actions, performed by the characters so
realistically that they look as if they should be chained
to the walls of an asylum, wearing straight jackets.
movie is told in one of the most effective ways I have ever
seen; at first, we get the story of the future, and then,
those of the past, which are both essentially fine examples
of how the human race have grown so deteriorated by their
negative impulses and unjust personalities. Unlike certain
movies, which cannot depend on a nonlinear storyline, "Goodbye
20th Century," like a similarly bizarre film called "Pulp
Fiction" defies common sense and straightforward storytelling.
After all, sometimes the appropriate ending comes long before
the tale is done being told.
first shots show the members of a reformed order climbing
steep hills and navigating territories in between massive
rocks. They reach the top, where prayers are said, religious
images are flashed in front of fire, and one is murdered
by the others with an endless supply of bullets. At least
that is the impression.
see, Kuzman, played by Nikola Ristanovski, is immortal--just
like all the others that have come with him up to the mountain.
Why are they shooting him, you ask? As explored later, Kuzman
is an individual of confused belief. He is blamed for the
death of countless children, following his sexual encounter
with a Saint. But still, even after his people gun him down,
the Earth will not take him. This is because his kismet
lies elsewhere. "Underneath the city," the prophet insists,
"there's a wall where the fate of all mankind is written.
That's where you'll find your own destiny. Read what it
says, and then you'll know what you have to do so you can
die." Following his journey, he comes across a guardian
of sorts, credited as 'the man with green hair.' Indeed,
as imagined by reading his name, this character looks like
some sort of super-hero villain reject. How many people
do you know taste their own blood after being shot?
is the base time period, but the movie more appropriately
achieves its purpose on the last night of the 20th century,
December 31, 1999. In an action that I shall not entirely
reveal here, dear old Santa loses his mind, and thus brings
with him the brink of a war in which no human escapes. Of
course, a judgment day is inevitable in the setup: with
these kinds of humans populating our natural world, no apocalypse
would mean no purpose for those who are sentenced to immortality.
In other words, life must come to an end in order for those
not condemned to the afterlife to find their own destiny.
They are at war with themselves.
of this might have grown stale and tired, had it not been
for the incredible shots captured by the filmmakers (visionary
power is sometimes needed to heighten the themes). For instance,
there is a small room in which several souls sit and mourn
a recent death, colorless but not void of purpose. What
the filmmakers are trying to accomplish in this scene on
New Year's eve is unimaginable. Nonetheless, it is quite
fascinating to watch.
Macedonia's desolate landscapes act as a visual representation
of the loneliness this amaranthine tribe has been faced
with. Only the 'animals' survived. By this, the filmmakers
are not referring to any kind of species other than humans.
Here, those damned to eternity are the real animals.
while this is an intriguing setup, it's not always a rewarding
one. Images fly off the screen and into the mind, but the
problem is that the story is not solid enough to back them
up (at least some of the time). It takes off in the first
half, but makes emergency landings long before the conclusion.
Obviously Popovski and Mitrevski enjoy the use of symbolism
to help bring meaning to the themes, but they never let
the premise develop the intrigue that we feel it should
achieve. Characters rush into the scenes, and disappear
before we have a chance to appreciate them. It's like trying
to get used to the smell of a new car, only for it to be
towed away without warning.
the end, Santa Claus inscribes symbols on a wall, which
will determine the destiny of those in the far future. What
is the film trying to say with this conclusion? Perhaps
it's that we are the ones responsible for the future we
create, and not God. Can I be sure of that? Not really.
The movie is very enthralling, but not always comprehensible.
Clearly it has something to articulate. Whether or not we
want to listen must be determined by the viewer. Either
way, one thing's for darn sure: wherever we go, insanity
thrives all around us. Perhaps some of it was even involved
in making this movie.
1999, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
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if the above review contains any spelling or grammar mistakes.