9 February 2017 | pscamp01
Beautiful, yet maddeningly oblique film.
"A Tale of Adam Mickiewicz's 'Forefathers' Eve'", aka "Lava", is an adaptation of the verse drama "Forefathers' Eve" ("Dziady"), which apparently considered one of the most important works in Polish literature. Unfortunately, since I have not read the work, understanding the movie (let alone reviewing it) is extremely difficult.
The plot, as near as I could decipher it, is about the ghost of a revolutionary who is called back to life during a magical ceremony held in a cemetery back in the 19th century.. At first he tries to find out what happened to the woman he was in love with, but he quickly starts to relive his memories of the imprisonment of him and his fellow revolutionaries.
The play apparently is made up of four completely different parts and the movie seems to jump back and forth between those parts. The movie also makes lots of jumps through time (sometimes even to the present day). The characters speak in verse through much of the movie, sometimes directly to the camera. Demons and ghosts wander through the scenes, and sometimes the lead character disappears for long stretches of time.
It's a chaotic mess but I'm not sorry I saw it. The movie weaves a hypnotic spell and that sweeps you up. The movie will probably be best enjoyed by people familiar with the source work, or at least those who speak Polish. (The subtitles on the print I saw were very good, but I'm sure there were a lot of nuances that got lost in translation.) Worth watching if you're feeling adventurous, but multiple screenings are probably necessary to even begin to understand it.