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Laramie Movie Scope: Maidan

The latest Ukrainian revolution, you are there

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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January 8, 2015 -- Maidan is a sort of fly-on-the-wall look at a revolution. This documentary doesn't look like much at first, but once the fires start burning, the tear gas starts swirling, the fireworks start bursting, the bullets start flying and the blood starts flowing on the streets, it gets dramatic.

The reason it looks like this is because of the way static cameras were set up around Maidan Nezalezhnosti (literally: Independence Square) the central square in Kiev. These cameras bear witness to what happened in this square. Maidan has seen many large political rallies since the Ukrainian Independence Movement started in 1990. This latest one (this film was released mere months after the end of the rallies depicted in the film) resulted in the ouster of Ukrainian President Viktor Fedorovych Yanukovych.

This documentary has no narration, no talking heads. The cameras generally don't even move (I only recall a camera moving once, a pan to the right to catch police shooting at protesters). They remain stationery, as events flow past. In the early part of the film, when nothing much is happening, this passive technique doesn't work very well, but once the action starts, there is a lot of drama.

In the early part of the film, we see and hear events unfold on an outdoor stage. There are speeches, music, songs and poems to get the people in the mood for revolution. The Ukrainian national anthem is heard several times in the film. I was surprised to see that the Cossacks are mentioned in the anthem. Cossacks have a somewhat negative image. I looked it up. It turns out the Cossacks are very important in Ukrainian history and culture.

Much of the rest of the film is taken up with clashes between the protesters and police. Both police and protesters are shot. Lots of rocks are thrown. Barricades are built and burned. There is lots of tear gas. There is a funeral for dead protesters with a stirring song. One thing that becomes clear in the film is that these protesters are tough. They are not afraid to fight for their freedom.

As far as an explanation of what is happening, that is left to the announcements from the stage, comments from people in the crowd and some inter titles inserted into the film. This story is mostly told in pictures. This reminded me of the old radio and TV show “You Are There” which recreated historical events, but included modern reporters inserted into past events. This film is like that, but it really does transport the viewer into historical events. In this film, you are really there. This film rates a C+.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2015 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)