The Forgiveness Of Blood (2011) is an Albania drama film directed by Joshua Marston. It is Marston’s second feature film, after his stunning debut, Maria Full Of Grace (2004). Although Joshua Marston has only made these two films, he has already established a reputation for his intense themes and magnificently constructed stories. He pours his heart and soul into his films, and the result leaves a lasting impression on its viewers.
In a small town in Albania, a family becomes entangled in a blood feud when the father, Mark (Refet Abazi), becomes an accessory to a murder that escalated from a land dispute. Mark goes into hiding to avoid the police and retaliation from the victim’s family. Since Mark has not been punished for his crime, the victim’s family wants to fulfill their lost blood by killing either Mark or one of his sons. His oldest son, Nik (Tristan Halilaj), is about 16 years old, but his younger son is only about six years old. Both boys are forced to remain in their home as a sign of respect to the grieving family, as well as for their own protection. If either are seen outside they will be killed. Nik’s slightly younger sister, Rudina (Sindi Lacej), is also forced to quit going to school and take over Mark’s job delivering bread.
Nik and his younger brother spend countless days upon weeks trapped in their small house, isolated from the outside world, with no end in sight. Although Nik is open to trying to bring in a mediator to help move things along, everyone else involved (including Mark) wants to wait and see what time will do to help the situation. Nik’s isolation quickly turns to frustration and anger because he sees the possibility of spending the rest of his life trapped in the once safe walls of his home, that have now become his own prison.
It is not very often that a movie introduces me to a world to which I have absolutely no comprehension. The story in The Forgiveness Of Blood was a completely original idea for me. Obviously I am aware that situations like this do happen today, but I have never before seen it on film. In an era where films all seem vaguely familiar, this one is fresh and deeply intriguing.
One of the most interesting parts of The Forgiveness Of Blood was watching the drastically different “trapped” situations that Nik and Rudina are in. They have both been taken from their youthful existence and forced into completely new and unsettling worlds. Rudina is forced to spend her days selling bread among the townspeople, who all stare at her with their knowing and judging eyes. She has no interest in being responsible for the family, but she does it anyway. Nik, on the other hand, wants nothing more than to be an active member of the family. From the very beginning, Nik wants to be involved and even be part of the negotiation process. His entire world has now become what he can see through windows, curtains and planks of wood he has set up around the rooftop gym he has built on his home. He has become completely cut off from everything he once loved.
Joshua Marston and Andamion Murataj have written an extremely emotional story filled with a depth that is invigorating. It is a magnificently shot film, showing the beauty of the country and giving the story a much needed authenticity. Without the location shooting, and unknown actors it would have been hard to embrace the story in the same way, but of course Marston understood this. His keen eye for detail and his desire to educate people everywhere has left me eagerly awaiting his future projects.
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