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The Wild East

[…] The cowboy anarchic philosophy, in its punk-and-samurai version (!), the protection of the weak (a group of dwarves trying to form a settlement in the Kyrgyzstan wilderness), the fight against evil (the bikers): all ingredients of the Western film genre, which is reinterpreted here as a political tool within the geography of Kazakhstan, equal-parts wilderness and desert.

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, freedom and chaos were the daily routine, even in Kazakhstan, where the film-maker Rashid Nugmanov opened up and closed the self-declared “Kazakh New Wave” with his two films Igla (1988) and The Wild East (1993). The latter witnesses the need for a Western reformation of aesthetics and values as it is directly inspired by The Magnificent Seven, an American remake of Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai. The cowboy anarchic philosophy, in its punk-and-samurai version (!), the protection of the weak (a group of dwarves trying to form a settlement in the Kyrgyzstan wilderness), the fight against evil (the bikers): all ingredients of the Western film genre, which is reinterpreted here as a political tool within the geography of Kazakhstan, equal-parts wilderness and desert. This literally geo-political film, this “Eastern”, is eccentric and insecure. The epic is weakened by the comic, but the comic is never fully assumed as the main character remains tremendously serious throughout. The poor acting generates a notable distance from the story, and the tragedy of the ultimate battle becomes a masquerade. It is probably this uncertain, indefinable, ambiguous character that gives the movie its force. Within its lack of definability, the dramatic experience finds room to expand The Wild East is a film that nourishes our imagination and leaves an impression on our memory. Thanks to the Neues Kino in Basel for proposing again such a rarity.

Text: Giuseppe Di Salvatore

First published: May 03, 2016

The Wild East | Film | Rashid Nugmanov | KAZ 1993 | 98’

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http://knockflix.com/stream/play2.php?movie=tt0106723

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