Month: February 2014

The Romanticists (2014) – a review.

The Romanticists is the first Armenian film I’ve ever viewed.
My misguided expectation of films from that area of the world are very slow-paced across a barren landscape. But The Romanticists is more concentrated and with a pace that gains speed in conjunction with the narrative.

A group of friends have a farewell party for one of their own who is off to Hollywood to break into the big time.   But at the party, as the night goes on and the welcomed and unwelcomed guests interact, political beliefs rise to the surface.
The farewell , it seems, was the beginning of an uncontrollable night.

The final 20 minutes of the film contrast sharply to the earlier scenes.
I was particularly taken by the film’s finale which cleverly exhausts the characters but still breathes life into the story.  My understanding of Armenia history and politics is non-existent, but despite not fully identifying with the issues affecting the characters,  I could still empathise with their frustrations and motivations.

The Romanticists premiered at the Goteberg International Film Festival in January 2014.
It is the first feature film of director/writer Areg Azatayan and Shoghik Tadevosyan and there is something there to suggest a visit to future films they create.
I suspect this film about a farewell, is for them, the beginning of a strong voice in Armenian cinema.


– Rhett Bartlett.


The scarring of Solomon Northup

I noticed a recurring motif during ’12 Years a Slave’.

It begins with the scarring on Solomon Northup’s back after his lashing.
The Keloid scarring forms repetitive bumps/ridges on his back.

Screen Shot 2014-02-18 at 11.24.36 PM

On the slave ship, he throws a dead body over the side and into the water.
The wake left by the boat forms waves which have the bumps/ridges repetitive motif.

Screen Shot 2014-02-19 at 12.14.33 AM

In this image below, his scarring is covered by his clothing, but the cross-lacing on the back of his shirt repeats the bump motif

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This scene below begins with his back to the ranch steps, which cascade down to his back, again in the ridged, bump formation

Screen Shot 2014-02-18 at 11.30.40 PM

When invited to sit at the table for refreshment, the conversation begins with house shutters behind him, which have a ridged surface

Screen Shot 2014-02-18 at 11.29.32 PM

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Solomon again is framed by a staircase cascading down to where he lays on the floor.

Screen Shot 2014-02-18 at 11.27.33 PM

In this scene, he has his back turned to the wall which he is building.  The wood form the waves and ridges that can represent his scarring on his back

Screen Shot 2014-02-18 at 11.26.45 PM

And of note, in his conversation with Pitt, who agrees to write correspondence to his friends in the north, that could potentially help in his freedom. Pitt asks him to hand the wood shavings which were piled up behind Solomon during the conversation.  The shavings are stacked in a way which form ridges.

Screen Shot 2014-02-18 at 11.37.15 PM


– Rhett Bartlett