The image of injustice spread in the colorless space of modernity seems to be perceived as a biblical generalization of one villager, if we create a true story of happiness, philanthropy and oppression of truth.

The feature film of director and screenwriter Beso Solomanashvili, "Vegetable Garden in the Conflict Zone" (2021) depicts the tragedy of the 2008 war. In all its essence, such concrete and dramatic, human misery seems to be easily generalized if we find an artistic equivalent, as the author of the film was able to do.

The love of the land and the simple, undisturbed love of where we come from, the calmness of the discordant, chaotic space, which is only illusory and momentary, resembles a vision of our country in the historical perspective - from this perspective, we can see Robinson (Duta Skhirtladze), a peasant already doomed by his directness and naturalness. He stands far from war and killing people, raised on this land and doomed to peace, nevertheless, tragic violence destroys everything he loves so much.

What is this hero like? It is, indeed, interesting and even important in the psycho-portrait direction: Robinson is a rough, kind peasant, short and sharp-spoken, whom the director lets move around without pathos in his favorite space. In general, we see any character in this film from seemingly harsh side of the most unadorned, realistically intense reality: confused, burdened by waiting for the enemy, and enduring many horrors.

The main character has a special bond with this space. Distinguished by a completely simple compositional unity is his small house, objects of existence and agricultural remains spread in the yard at the background of the faded landscape. Even a simple sign of character and a rifle found in Robinson’s hand is as unimaginable as a hand grenade that can be taken for a “potato.” How many times can aggression and immorality destroy and change forever this abundant presence and kindness? This space is very local, small - the cameraman and the director don't even try to cover an incredible scale. After all, these are a few inches, lying down in the valley belonging to Robinson and people like him, familiar to them. If it had not been for his brother's letter, which gives the reasons for his emigration as well as the sale of the family house with the slightest embarrassment, perhaps nothing in this world would have destroyed the idea of loyalty for Robinson, nothing would have been so heartbreaking. The novelistic dramatic sequence acquires a tragic appearance at the very beginning of the story: the main character - a warm, kind man - was easily killed by his brother. Not only did the brother give up his own "I," but the man who was left as a spectator in the area died even before the end of the military operation...

In general, the model of any relationship in this small space is very clear: cousin Aslanbek, who has become an enemy today, officers and a foreign expert, for whom all this is "just a job," a journalist, who, to put it simply, is looking for a serious tragedy in order to blame the enemy. Individual characters and collective associations - the more times each of them appears on the scorched, sun-baked rural landscape, the more the reality reinforced by these associations will grow and emerge in us.

Duta Skhirtladze's Robinson and his entourage, starting from Kakha Beridze's officer, who realizes this fact as an unfortunate reality, ending with the TV cameraman, who even falls asleep during the interview with this amazing man because he does not understand what he is actually hearing and where he is. All this reality, at the same time, is a small novelistic panel of our existence. “Blessed are you who weep now, and woe to you who laugh,” mentally, you will think that nothing can be clearly said about this...

And yet, all this is tragic and full of warmth at the same time, with the love of the righteous looking at us or with questioning eyes. In general, do we realize that when you give up your childhood lost in the torpidity of each sliver and walnut tree, you run away because you can't go anywhere anymore? Perhaps, we don't fully realize that if we don't respect our own rusted gate, none of us will be able to be loyal to the large mansion and its surroundings.

Sentimentality which is a little mentoring, a bit difficult to explain might accompany these words and the feeling that this kind hero, sometimes glaring with naivety awakens on the screen, full of his childlike devotion to home and land and even unworthy people, but it is also a fact that this work created a desire of awakening such feelings and talking about them.

War and chaos hit the street of the deep-rooted village with a murderous noise. Tanks cut through the gap in the street and the cold mass of metal disappeared there. An unusually heavy and intense sense of rhythm accompanies all this - both expressive and, like the text of the ancient runes, grasping with dual wisdom.

Before Robinson's tragedy happened, a child lived in him, an eternal child, sure and happy in his unshakable faith in the permanence of goodness and love. According to the director's concept, it might be this link, a living and inviolable link, that is the most important, driving link in the character's behavioral chain.

The heroes of the films created on the theme of our common tragedy are naturally carriers of their own past. This time too, we have a different person in front of us: a person who has once and for all believed in loyalty to the good of his land and is surprised that this is not understood by everyone. It is possible that he, already exposed to tragedy and crippled, no longer believes in illusory attention, conversely, from this half-disturbed speaker with the intensified faith and sheltered under a faded tarpaulin, still no one can take away the personality hidden deep in his essence, who, even with limited physical ability, can remind people of dignity!


Ketevan Trapaidze

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