Georgian cinema is alive, independent and political and it exists in new dimensions judging from few films out of several that have been shot in recent years. Of course, there might have been more, but we cannot replace desire and reality with illusions. Reliable "prolapses" can be taken as a sign of (part of) the new generation of directors – non-banal, not stereotypical, free thinking and vision.

Kote Kalandadze's film "The Drummer" (2022), written by him and Keko (Ekaterine) Chelidze, turned out to be such a "disruptor," which attracted the attention of viewers of different generations for different reasons and areas of interest. The same thing happened in the documentary film "Holidays of Dead Souls" made by this creative duet. In this case, it was directed by Keko Chelidze, conversely.

"The Drummer" is about life in the musical underground, a more or less hidden world where not much is known about the backstage or the underground itself, unless you are a musician or someone close to them. However, it is familiar to Kote Kalandadze, himself a musician and an artist actively involved in the field. Thus, he knows exactly what is happening and what he is looking for in this space and field. As a result, it creates a general portrait of alternative music groups (both from two decades ago and today), reveals the "canonical" – parallel, alternative "synergy" of life, around the medium – young drummer Niko (Lasha Tskvitinidze, in childhood – Luka Kalandadze). The other characters of the film also want to move to the avant-garde, with their own rules, trying to create their own order.

In addition to director Lasha Tskvitinidze, composer Gogi Dzodzuashvili (whose music, together with Kote Kalandadze's band, creates a system of signs in the film), the other participants of "The Drummer", if I am not mistaken, except for Nika Gordeziani, are mostly either musicians or non-professional actors – Nata Sopromadze , Sandro Tskitishvili, Giorgi Gvarjaladze, Valentin Kalandadze, Kira Chachava, Achi Kevlishvili, Nika Meskhi, Ioane Kipshidze and others. Their texture, type, natural manner of behavior, plasticity, episodes of life represent the colorfulness and diversity of society.

Giorgi Dzodzuashvili's mosquito has become a telling metaphor for reality. It – a victim of the system and a controlled weapon – as a temptress, becomes one of the givers of a fatal dramatic path for Niko (who is tired and cannot resist the temptation). Fate, together with a daring choice, follows the drummer.

Kote Kalandadze's film is the first cinematic case of such a direct entry into the world of rock musicians. In part, it also includes documentary material, but it is filmed in non-documentary ways, it is assembled with continuous and discontinuous, as if disordered and illogical connections, "clip" leaps of shots and likewise montage (editing - Kote Kalandadze, Levan Kukhashvili).

What they play in "The Drummer" and how they play/perform is not just music, not just a recording of a rehearsal or a concert, not just the sound of any instrument, or the manner of displaying individual performing skills or techniques, style. There is nothing more expressive, multi-meaningful than music (rock, hard rock or any other), especially when it, both by itself and in context, is used by the director in a special way, loading it with meaning and sending precise messages in an imprecise, non-specific space, in an indefinite time. For everyone to hear, in accompaniment or contrapuntal connection. As in reality, the music in the film reflects the situation these people (musicians) are in, the feelings they don't voice but carry inside, the thoughts they "think" and the days they don't count anymore.

Of course, the fate of artists/musicians, their chosen ways and paths, and choices in general, both their music and the essence of such music are important, but the codes that fit all this contain something more and more important, which needs to be deciphered, decoded, present in the fabric of the film to unravel the layers. As for the film language directed here, it can be safely said that it heralds something different and a new speech stream. Moreover, the film is built on a tempo-rhythm that matches musical beats, it has its own harmony and is just as "rocky" as rock music.

At first glance, many things in "The Drummer" are familiar. Quotes or parodies of quotes from movies. The general characteristics and physical and emotional state of the characters are familiar, but Kote Kalandadze breaks the existing schemes and "traditions," gives a new and unexpected color, makes a different twist, putting the stress on another "grain" and changing the signs of vision, perception and essence, paraphrasing, changing the angle of the gaze and puts into another mold.

The director builds the narrative on several concentric rays and parallel lines running from the center. Parallel lines are also intersected at the very beginning and in one way or another, they organize the internal chaos, anxieties, and weakness of the world and Niko.

It is in this background and in the center that Niko’s personal drama – one of many – a young man is activated, several layers of life are arranged like a complex patience – of a musician, of a son, a lover, a factory worker, of a person living in an imaginary world, in empty dreams and not freed from childhood traumas.

The image of Ronin – a Japanese samurai (an imperfect and positive category of samurai), an image – a sign found by chance, "by the power of fate," becomes the only refuge for Niko, a sacred way to escape from reality and survive, to replace existing reality with non-existent one. Maybe an alter ego. Imaginative but reliable. An alternative to reality and unbearable existence. What Niko can't do, Ronin can do. A counter-hero who beats the power of music and the dream of drama.

A father sitting in a wheelchair and unable to speak. A peculiar variation of the father's bosom (even the lost one), a metaphor and the possibility of returning to these beginnings. An alternative to the antagonistic, disharmonious father-son relationship adopted in Georgian cinema (with rare exceptions). The relationship between Niko and his father is small, but it is another reliable shelter (for both sides), even a small joy given to his father is one of the special messages of the film. Light breeze of freedom and dreams.

The places in which the action takes place and develops, which are as if containing circumstances and social signs divided into registers (production designer Polina Rudchik), make clear the spontaneity and specificity of the atmosphere. But the perception of problems, even in the conditions of immersion in semi-darkness, monochrome, despite the contradictions, is free from the feeling of inevitability. In the end, patience will spread out in a different way.

Vasil Dolidze's camera easily and deeply penetrates into the heart of Niko's and society's life, as if tearing into fragments this reality or imagined reality, loud thoughts or fantasies, seemingly neutral episodes, but it itself remains neutral and "stands aside." The voice behind the frame is an expression of Niko's thoughts. Thought impressions voiced and rendered in plastic, carpet-like, with dense figures evenly spaced out on an assembled or blank surface. As if a row and alternation of blurred, faded, darkened reflective frames. Thoughts in tangible, contrapuntal prints. Photosynthesis is the opposite.

Like everything else, love (which could have brought happiness) turns into a drama and involves more trials and problems for the already trapped Niko, who makes repeated and interrelated mistakes and against whom the mechanisms of the system are already activated.

In the course of events, Niko's transformation begins. It's like he's still emotionless, passive, he doesn't start a rebellion, he doesn't turn into Ronin, but a protest against everything that happened to him, that is happening and/or will happen is easily born or manifested in him. Something is clearly changing. Something clearly will not remain as it used to do.

In the course of events, Niko's transformation begins. It's like he's still emotionless, passive, he doesn't start a rebellion, he doesn't turn into Ronin, but a protest against everything that happened to him, that is happening and/or will happen is easily born or manifested in him. Something is clearly changing. Something clearly will not remain as it used to do.

The film covers a series of problems – the doom of people employed in the field of music (and not only), actually, unemployed and in some ways, hopelessness of unrealized people, drug addiction, hence other problems; relationship – with the state, police, law, illegality; obstacles, persecution/bullying in childhood and later, in adulthood – from the regime established as a system. Monsters – which give birth to new monsters, system – which kills, drugs – which destroy... even music cannot drown out its terrible "sounds." Can't subdue it. Even loud drum beats.

In such an environment, in such conditions, when we cannot find even a trace of responsibility, this kind of life of people/young people is neither surprising nor reprehensible. Even if we want to, we cannot escape from the contradictions of reality and the problems in which the society is completely immersed.

And as we approach and observe this community, we will hear their silent, unspoken, hidden desperate cry lost in the chords of the guitars, the sounds of the drums – S.O.S., for blessed are only the quiet.

Lela Ochiauri

Leave a Comment

თქვენი ელფოსტის მისამართი გამოქვეყნებული არ იყო. აუცილებელი ველები მონიშნულია *