Review: All Things Ablaze
Directors: Oleksandr Techynskyi, Aleksey Solodunov and Dimitry Stoykov
By Mae Anthony
When reviewing something, one must be careful to not give too much away. Arranging your argument around not presenting too many spoilers can be difficult. In saying that, here’s a delicious spoiler for you: the danger of me actually spoiling anything – let alone too much – about this film is next to nothing, seeing as there is nothing to spoil and it is exactly what it says it’s going to be: “A fly on the wall documentary that positions the audience amongst the Ukrainian protestors in the winter of 2013-2014.”
I appreciate the effort and danger that has gone into the filming of this. The camera work of just a few men is exceptional seeing as the conditions in which it was filmed – packed crowds, countless medical and civil emergencies, numerous and huge explosions – was so rough. They definitely covered a lot of ground.
But aside from a few facts at the beginning and end, this documentary didn’t have enough background information to present to the viewer. At least not enough to warrant 90 minutes of nonsensical anarchy. Documentaries should inform us, and although the unique and brave way it showed and positioned us within the visual sightline of factual events was confronting, this alone could not carry the experience and left me feeling phased and regrettably bored.
After seeing a good movie one should feel like they have to re-adjust themselves into reality and be almost shocked when the ending comes, even if the ending is not particularly shocking in effect, plot, or visual capacities. I remained completely neutral at its ending. Probably because at no point during the movie was I transformed in any way.
I must say, it creates a grotesque burden on me as the viewer. To be so disengaged in a movie based on such sensitive content is abhorrent. The bare reality of it was not enough, not when the chaos of the events was so muddled and the dialogue so difficult to follow.
Plot is not particularly important in documentaries, however, there must be some direction. This showed the experience of the event from start to finish, and although a unique perspective, it is something you might watch, or see snippets of, online. It felt more like a news story than an informative piece of film. The footage may have been given more meaning had there been more superimposed on it. Perhaps not.
All Things Ablaze feels like a film that is limited to a niche crowd who know a lot about the events, are connected to it in some way, or are people who might like to see anarchy play out in almost-real time. I can’t say I’m any of these people, but nevertheless, the bare bones of the event just didn’t cut it for me.
Future screenings of this are on Thursday 14 July at Luna SX, and on Sunday 17 July at Luna Leederville.
For more information visit the Revelation Film Festival Website.