The Eve of Ivan Kupalo

Teeming with visual invention and energy and very much a film of 1968, this Ukrainian film by Yuri Illyenko, the cinematographer on Shadows of Our Forgotten Ancestors, was banned by the Soviet government for almost two decades, apparently because of the satirical treatment of Soviet condescension toward the Ukraine in a sequence near the end. Freely adapted from Gogol's first short story, the film benefits from a punchy, staccato score by L. Grabovsky. The relation of its style to Chagall that many critics have suggested is apt, for better and for worse—the giddy lightweightness is more than just a matter of characters floating through the air. Although the narrative doesn't quite get lost in the virtuosity, this is more a work of ornamentation than of storytelling, rendered in lively 'Scope images.

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