V. Ulea’s (a.k.a. Vera Zubarev) take on angels and man, based on her book About Angels, About God, About Poetry, combining film and ballet has the promise of creative greatness but can’t quite hurdle the barrier of too many words.
Michael Dura’s on-camera narration, which glues the silent-movie-titled sections together, lets us know that “God always wins” and engagingly grins through the tickling-ribs gag but overshadows the mute, frequently superior statements and insights from the dancers. One of which is himself as he teams up with Tomas Dura and brings to life the black-and-white pair of angels who are too dull to suit God’s (Alexei Borovik, who also choreographed) intellectual desires.
Before you can say discourse, Adam (André Vytoptov, with just the right touch of naïveté and a teasing torso that holds the attention of scheming women and serpents everywhere) is crafted from clay and brought to life. But the dirty-blond Adonis would rather be the world’s first constant-gardener than debate Darwin’s theories, so God conjures up Eve (Abigail Mentzer) to stir the pot and plant seeds of a wholly different type.
Mentzer brings form and style to the truly childish, day-care inspired Garden of Eden set, but lacks the conniver visage that puts men under her rule to this day.
Unfortunately, it’s the movement that frustrates more than lifts the thought-line forward. Still-photo montages are like reading a review where moments are described but the flow can’t be appreciated. With such skilled practitioners at his disposal, more’s the pity that the protagonists spend much of their effort posing. Vad Chariton’s score (perhaps a tad over-burdened with triple-metre) adds colour and direction but the promise of Eve’s “Invitation to the Dance” is never fulfilled—more time devoted to the transformation of the apple of knowledge from construction paper to full-flesh temptation is needed.
Happily, left to their own devices, the angel brothers’ stretch, flex and boogie wakeup-regimen is a marvellous delight that whets both ear and eye for more.
Self-described by the producer as experimental cinema, let’s declare this experiment a success, take Ulea’s intriguing point of view to a full-length production and give it the complete attention it deserves. JWR