The Swimmer | Chicago Reader

The Swimmer


In the USSR, Georgian filmmaking is famous for adventurous cinema that also has wide and international audience appeal. The relatively permissive Georgian studio has long been a resort of filmmakers from throughout the Soviet Union, but native Georgians have produced some of its most exciting work, among them the veteran director Irakli Quiricadze. This bold allegory about three generations of Georgians (made in 1981 but only released last year) is told through the vehicle of successive attempts to complete an awesome challenge in long-distance swimming. The challenge—faced differently by the men of each generation—becomes a metaphor for the political and social challenges of the day. Its symbolic references and the different periods of the film are evoked with a heady collection of cinematic tricks, including tinting of footage, speeding up sound and image, and surrealistic fancy. Quiricadze seems to be practicing a Soviet magical realism.

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