For Reel

Wings (1966)
August 8, 2012, 11:15 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Larisa Shepitko

Ukrainian born Larisa Shepitko was tragically killed in an automobile accident in 1979, cutting short an all-too-brief career that crescendoed in 1977 with her most well-known film, The Ascent. It was Wings, however, the first feature that she made after graduating the famed All-Union State Institute of Cinematography in Moscow, that perhaps best illustrated her full potential as a storyteller. Maya Bulgakova, rendered androgynously with pulled back hair and a finely-tailored suit, plays an ex-pilot who now serves as the headmistress of a provincial school. In the early-goings, Shepitko is intentionally evasive in describing the woman – she is tightly-wound, never breaking her stern, weary expression as she engages in a series of fairly mundane conversations. Through a series of flashbacks, however, Shepitko begins to explore what has made this woman who she is, and just as the audience begins to understand her, so to does she begin to become honest with herself. The reoccurring images of flight are both an image of liberation and suffocation – cramped as she seems in sterile buildings, her history holds tragedy along with the sense of freedom, and as such a full regression poses a threat to her continued well-being. Shepitko was a student of Alexander Dovzhenko, and it shows in an enchanting sun shower sequence – as Bulgakova holds grapes in the rain, one can’t help but consider the agricultural harmony so poetically evoked in the opening sequence of Earth.

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