Honestly, looking back at my life I can’t say I really have acquired any heirlooms from my father. I do have a picture from when I was a young boy in a railroad hat with my dad holding me that I always keep in plain sight, but that’s very different from what most people know as a heirloom. I certainly don’t have a special watch (though I imagine I will inherit a grandfather clock when my father passes on), especially one with an inscription. However, if I did have one like Tzanko Petrov did in our movie, Glory, I certainly can imagine the emotional toll that would take on a man.
08 hours, 29 minutes, 10 seconds.
08 hours, 29 minutes, 20 seconds.
08 hours, 29 minutes, 30 seconds, a watch is winded by Tzanko Petrov (played by Stefan Denolyubov). He eats a small meal while listening to the local news. He then proceeds to get ready for work which includes carrying a very large wrench. After completing these tasks, he turns off the television and heads out the door.
Down the railroad tracks he goes, as Tzanko is a linesman for the railroad. He stops along the path, and tightens a few nuts on the line that have come a little loose. Soon, he comes upon a single piece of currency on the ground. Tzanko takes the money and pockets it. Farther down the path, he comes upon a second bill. He looks around nervously and then decides to pocket that as well. However, further along the line, he finds a giant amount of bills and realizes he can’t pocket them anymore.
After taking a sip of water, he decides to do the honest thing and report the large sum of cash to the authorities. Meanwhile, Julia Staikova (played by Margita Gosheva)is at a fertility doctor with her boyfriend, Valeri (played by Kitodar Todorov) being told about the ins and outs of eggs versus embryos. Julia is the head of public relations for the Ministry of Transport. She gets a phone call from her PR department about the found money and she decides to make a hero out of Tzanko.
Camera crews are sent to the scene to interview Tzanko for the PR piece. However, when the crews interview Tzanko, they realize he has a very large stuttering problem. Later, the PR crew watch the footage and and nearly fall down laughing. They decide how to alter the footage and set up a press conference with Tzanko to receive a reward for his heroism.
Tzanko gets lost on the way to the press conference and has to be picked up by Julia’s boyfriend Valeri. At the conference, Julia removes Tzanko’s watch in preparation for the linesman to receive his reward, another watch. Tzanko gets nervous as we later find out that the watch is an inscribed heirloom from his father. Julia tells him that he will see his watch again after the ceremony. However, after the ceremony she is nowhere to be found. Can the newly anointed hero be reunited with his cherished watch?
Naturally, this film goes down the road of tragic absurdity as Julia being the ruthless career woman avoids Tzanko, a poor pitiful soul (and very calm) at every cost. Both of the leads in this film do an excellent job of portraying their characters to the utmost pinnacle of where they should be. The supporting cast also does an adequate job. The film gives us an interesting moral dilemma, one that can be discussed and debated for a very long time.
If I had to nitpick, I did find a scene or two (don’t want to give anything away) to not really follow the path of the picture. It almost seems as if the directors threw those in for their enjoyment or moral justification rather than following where the story should go (it could have benefited from a third perspective beyond the two directors).
I’m also a little split on the whole Valeri/Julia embryo thing. I’m pretty sure it was placed in there to give a human side to Julia and show that she has a life outside her public relations career. But it comes across as odd and jars from the movie once it gets rolling. Keep in mind though, these are very minor criticisms. The film is a great tragedy piece, it was just a couple of steps from being amazing.
The film is shot in 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen. The color palette for this movie is meant to be dull and drab. After all it was shot on a minuscule budget and the scenery did not lend itself to lush cinematography. What is there does have a good amount of detail and for the scenes inside Petrov’s living arrangements, it did feel as if I was there…but that might have been his acting job more than anything. Outside scenery is good, that railroad might need an overhaul, but everything is suitable. It can come across as a little soft, but there is more good than bad here.
Audio is presented in 5.1 or 2.0 Bulgarian Dolby Digital. (Yes, Bulgarian, the first film on Upcomingdiscs to be in this language). Subtitles are provided in English. Even if I did know a lick of Bulgarian, the subtitles are well appreciated since the sound is very low and what we’ll call naturalistic. The film is mostly dialog as you might imagine but even the scenes that might lend itself to some surrounds (such as Tzanko out on the line) don’t sway from the front speakers. The dialog does the job for the most part, but considering it was done on a very limited budget this is the best we are going to get.
Automatic Trailers: After Image(Polish), The Teacher (Czech), and The Lesson (Bulgarian). There is also a quick advertisement for Film Movement.
Short Film – Helium, directed by Anders Walter 22:46: This film is in Danish with English Subtitles. I wish they didn’t burn in the subtitles though (can’t remove them). This is an Academy Award winner for Best Live Action Short for 2014. It has a young boy, Alfred (played by Pelle Falk Krusbæk) who is terminally ill and hospitalized. Enter the janitor, Enzo (played by Casper Crump) who tells the boy stories of a magical universe in order to bring peace to the young boy. Very sad, but also uplifting. It’s nice to see this make a disc for those who seek these shorts out.
One thing I do take issue with in the five words reviews that seemed to be all around for this film is that they describe it as a comedy. It never felt that way to me. It is a great film, but comedy seems to be the wrong word for it. I’m willing to believe to it is a tragic comedy, or simply a drama that is light spirited, but it does not come across as a ha-ha kind of funny. Unless “funny” means making light of people’s handicaps in a rude fashion.
Anyway, the film is brilliantly acted, particularly by the two leads. They put together a great story that the viewer can hang on and appreciate. The film is a little soft in the video department and the audio is pithy but it’s suitable for the purpose, especially if you have a good system to play it on. The extra short film is also worth checking out. I recommend it primarily as a rental but if you are a lover of foreign films, especially European ones, then this is one to put in your library. Enjoy.