Wednesday, October 8, 2014

100 Words On ... The Vanquishing of the Witch Baba Yaga

The Vanquishing of the Witch Baba Yaga plays October 15-21 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Frequent subtitled voiceovers and title sequences crowd this film with theories, by the likes of Bruno Bettelheim, that sometimes feel underdeveloped. But its main premises—that we seek to overcome fear of the unknown and the darkness within us by imposing order on the chaos of nature, and that our most primal fears are encoded into the traditions and stories we pass down—are evocatively embodied by a mix of impressionistic 16-mm footage of Eastern European life in modern urban and rural settings and archival footage from the likes of the town deserted after the Chernobyl disaster (above), all intercut with the gory Russian fairy tale of the title. The fable is illustrated with sepia and black drawings over which the camera swooshes and pans, magnifying the dread embodied by the forest-dwelling witch.

Written for The L Magazine

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