During the years of independent development of the Republic of Uzbekistan, a new vision of the original national art, including cinema, was formed in the country. Changes are distinguishing both genre and style, and human resources as well. Young people replace the famous masters of cinematography. More and more often the names of seemingly young and recently novice film-makers can be heard, among them are Z. Musakov, I. Ergashev, Yu. Razykov, S. Nazarmuhamedov, N. Abbasov, R. Malikov and others. However, they master in their creative work not only new subjects, stylistic skills, and genres, but infuse a new energy into the art of cinema adequate to contemporary requirements.
General process of film-making is non-homogenous. Along with the works of deep and integral content, which creators undoubtedly have a power of observance, civil position, perception of real life’s collisions; on the screen one can watch the films of superficial, ordinary plot, and one-dimensional, impersonal characters. The film “Before the Daylight” of the young director, Yu. Azimov, is interesting and serious in terms of the issues it deals with and the choice of the protagonists. This film tells a story of a difficult and monotonous life of an Uzbek village at the end of the 1980s. A poor family that is striving to lease a plot of land undertakes to grow the silkworm moth in big quantities, which is not an easy task. Eventually, dramatic circumstances lead to the death of the head of the family. This film is standing out by the genuineness of documentary authenticity in display of the everyday life. Although the properties of the film were appealing, in general, it was not positively met by the spectators. It should be kept in mind that the relevance of the theme alone, as well as veracity of the story, does not guarantee the success of the film, which lacks a temper and intensity of a genre.
Director Yu. Sabitov in his motion picture “One step left, one step right” addresses the subject of difficult life, choice of the decent place in society; the story takes place in prison. Spectator sees two characters – Sabir and Bakhtiyar, – who by different reasons serve their sentences in prison. Not everyone can keep one’s dignity; preserve one’s honor in such circumstances. Sabir has failed to stand up the hardships, seeking the favors of the surrounding people by humiliating himself. Bakhtiyar has chosen to fight and resist the evil, and, unfortunately, dies at the end while saving a hostage. This film truly and powerfully shows the difficulties of the life behind the bars. However, the weakness of the filmmaker’s position is in demonstrating that depicted situation does not overcome desperation. The picture lacks profoundness of the events linked to the society and the social processes.
Attempts to fall outside the limits of the narrative genre, examine the existential subjects, social relations with a different extent of persuasion are noticeable in such motion pictures as “In Dreams I Cry Bitterly” of S. Nazarmukhamedov, “I am Waiting for You” of F. Musadjanov, “A Jump into the Abyss” of M. Baymukhamedov, “When I come back” of F. Fayziev, “The Price of Happiness” of Z. Musakov.
The genre of melodrama is still alive and announces itself in the repertoire of the cinema studio. The films of this genre are attractive for the spectators of different age groups. This genre is favored both by the experienced cinema-makers like F. Davletshin (“Give me Back my Star”), H. Fayziev (“Marghiana”), K. Kamalova (“Everything Around is Covered with Snow”), I. Irgashev (“Love”), and by those new to the film-making business like R. Kubaev (“The Youngest Daughter”), N. Malikov (“The Mystery of the Fern”), D. Fayziev (“Kammy”), J. Iskhakov (“Stay Here”). Such films are commonly made in romantic context: “Men’s Dance” of Yu. Razykov, about an unanswered love, behind-the-time traditions in the family life, sometimes narrating the criminal stories like “Midnight Blues” of R. Malikov, “Judgement Day” of D. Abdullaev and others. In the historical context speaks the theme of generosity and betrayal in the lives of the characters in the film directed by S. Nazarmuhamedov – “The Only Memory”. The fate of a father and a son, which destinies had been strongly influenced by the time is a storyline of the picture of A. Akbarhodzhaev and A. Ismailov – “Destiny”.
One of the important trends in the Uzbek cinema of the last decades is comedy – a genre which is extremely popular and in demand. At the same time it is not easy to succeed in staging the comedy, since it requires the art of “sniper” accuracy, filigree technique, and perfected form. Such comedies of the past as “Nasreddin in Bukhara,” “Everyone in the neighborhood speaks about it”, “Where are you, Zulfiya” and other, are notable for their profoundly popular, concrete and clear content, and the relevance of their plots. The film-makers of the 90s seek to achieve the same, although new times require different approaches and solutions, which cause the emergence of many comedy movies based on different stories, embodied in a variety of shades of the genre styles.
Experienced director, I. Irgashev, specializes mostly in satire. There are his films “Iron Lady”, “Iron Man”, and “The Meany”. The director does not shy away from working in the key of lyrical comedy. For example, in his movie “Sharif and Marif” he praises folkloric traditions of the kizykchi (storytellers). T. Yunusov in his film “Boys from Tanga,” in lyrical terms narrates a story of the children from a distant village.
Movies of the talented director Z. Musakov – “Abdullajon” and “The Bomb” can be attributed to the fantasy genre. Thus, in one of the remote districts of the country an alien boy miraculously lands near some village. Why he appeared in these parts is not clear. However, if his goal was to explore the local life and meet people – he achieved a lot. Kind and modest boy mixes in the village community, finds shelter and understanding in the family of the farmer Bazarbay, who, by the way, has named the boy – Abdullajon. The film is characterized by humor and subtle irony.
Painted in distinctive colors is a social comedy of Z. Musakov “The Bomb”. At its core is a cheerful story about an extraordinary event – detection of the bomb by the villagers in the courtyard of one’s house. A gallery of vivid and colorful folk archetypes unfolds before the audience. Behind the hilarious sketches there is a certain stagnation and despair of the society.
Brightly and freshly is depicted the theme of love for the arts, for the cinema, in particular, in the movie of N. Abbasov – “Fellini”. The story is set in one of the areas of Karakalpakstan. Local cinema operator nicknamed Fellini passionately loves his modest profession, and dreams of taking part in the real cinematographic shootings. Arrival of the film crew into this remote area causes a great excitement among young people. The scenes of this film are touched with genuine romance.
Unfortunately, the interesting idea of M. Rajabov’s picture – “Pary MOMO” was not implemented to the full. The storyline is a parable based on the fate of a woman, who possesses a supernatural ability to help the sick and the suffering. However, her willingness to help people faces misunderstanding and hostility of the fellow countrymen. Similar story of the young healer is told in the film of Z. Musakov “Kichkina Tabib” (Little Healer). The boy named Daniyar possesses the ability to cure sick people. First he reanimated his mother, who was hopelessly sick, and then, when a rumor spread about his abilities, the crowd of the suffering began to besiege his home. However, the enormous vital energy of the boy acts selectively, curing only good and decent persons. Daniyar fights not only the unknown ailments, but the selfishness and spiritual blindness of people as well.
In the 90s, a number of experienced film-makers and directors paid tribute to the history. It is worth to mention a great work of M. Abzalov – adaptation of the novel by A. Kadiri “The Past Days”. The director and his team, remembering the first successful attempt of the screen adaptation of the novel, have relied on a combination of the experienced and young actors: B. Muhamadkarimov (Atabek), Sh. Dilmuradova (Kumish), S. Isayeva (Uzbekoyim). Although the main storyline of the tragic love has been preserved, the film-makers of the new version have failed to convincingly show all the subtle nuances of this story, consequently it turned out to be amorphous, vague, lacking the great power and poetic pathos of the novel. Failure was caused by many reasons, including the choice of actors. Heavily built and “carnal” Muhamadkarimov is certainly charismatic, but does not match at all the character of young Atabek, who is just stepping into the world of complex confrontation between the good and the evil, and tragically experiencing injustice of the surrounding environment of feudal principles. Does not correspond to the role of his beloved the young dancer – Dilmuradova, who lacked the integrity and meaningfulness of the personality of Kumush. More successful was the role of L. Eltoeva, who was able to discern in the unfortunate Zeynab the inescapable pain of unrequited love.
Has failed to become an event the film planned as historical “action” movie dedicated to the great Amir Temur, hastily made by the directors I. Ergashev and B. Sadykov. Commemorative work is notable for the picturesque scenes, excellent filming by R. Ibragimov, impressive stunts, but overall work of a large team makes a contradictory impression. The film has revealed the inability of the cinematographers to use efficiently the allocated financial resources and such equally important resources as the experience of the actors, cameramen, and the artists.
Fortunately, in the stream of films, that have been screened at the end of the 90s along with the weak motion pictures, some serious movies can be distinguished, which may be of interest both for the audience and the cinema art specialists. This, for example, is the film of Yu. Razykov “Spokesman”, which attracts the movie lovers by originality of the film-maker’s thinking, the complexity of “multi-stage” compositions, disclosure of the main character, which bears the signs of certain era. If it were not for some roughness of the style, not very accurate choice of the actor for the leading role, this film would have been much more successful on the screen.
Of great importance for the development of the modern Uzbek cinema was a Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan “On the Establishment of the “Uzbekkino” National Agency” adopted in March of 2004. Its objective is the enhancement of the influence of cinema on society and provision of the cinematography not only with new artistic concepts, but modern material and technical resources as well. The Governmental Resolution helps to intensify the film-making business, increase the volume of the cinema products, involvement of youth into the cinematographic process, etc. At the same time, we cannot ignore the still existing problems such as empty cinema halls during the screening of some new motion pictures of “Uzbekkino”, slow development of directing and scriptwriting skills. The causes for concern as well are the monotony of the preferred genre and themes, like detective or melodrama, the lack of viable ideas, inability to find an adequate cinematic expression of the creators’ idea.
More than a half of the films fall into the category of “drama”. The author’s plot becomes successful when a genre is chosen correctly and its implementation is creatively different. On the other hand, a genre does not help, if a screenplay is not credible enough and does not expose the characters of the protagonists.
For instance, a lot of discussion was caused by the motion picture of Yu. Razykov “Comrade Boykenjaev”. The genre of this film is a comedy drama. A devoted communist gets a task to set up an interethnic cemetery. With an astounding persistence Boykenjaev looks for the best plot of land, gets building materials, and is not aware at all that he is digging his own grave. The scenes of this film are saturated with comic details and anecdotal situations, where the general turmoil is being grotesquely pictured. However the problem is that the film-makers have evidently exaggerated crossing that ethical line, when the castigation of the authorities turns into the mockery over the human dignity.
The concept and interpretation of the film “Motherland” of the screenwriter and director, Z. Musakov, is contradictory. Events of the film embrace quite a long period of history, starting from the pre-World War II years and up to present day. Despite of the magnitude of the various sad and sorrowful situations experienced by the main character of the film, it is hard to get rid of the feeling of somewhat quirkiness of the story and pulp fiction effect of the picture. Contradictory nature of the main character has significant impact on the spectator’s confidence in the idea of the story.
The film “Happy Journey!” can be called as one of the best motion pictures made in recent years. The storyline of the film is hard to retell, that much is sophisticated and metaphorical is its fascinating language. It is a hymn to love and fidelity narrated using modern means, figurative plastic, words, music, and symbols.
The films released at the beginning of 2000 – “Aral is My Happinness” of R. Galiev and T. Kalimbetov, and “Oydinoy” of N. Abbasov – are notable due to their unusual presentation and seriousness of the script. The first picture tells about Karakalpakstan, people living near the dying sea. Severe, seemingly harsh nature has haedened the resistance and perseverance in people. Screenplay of the film “Aral is My Happiness” is built in a way that makes us the witnesses of how the temper of the film characters toughens up in the hardships, how the hope and the persistence overcome the difficulties of life. This picture is made in the perspective of romantic drama. Genre of the picture is declared in the first scenes, when a space man, one of the spaceship’s team, excitedly tells his colleagues: “Look down, we fly over the Aral Sea, there is Muynak, where lives my friend and fellow trainee Ernazar, whom I was trained with in flight school”.
The screenplay of the film “Oydinoy”, created by N. Abbasov, captivates by its amazing freshness and genuineness of the child’s perception of the world, depth of the immersion into the psychic of a female character, subtlety in disclosure of the feelings of a little girl that wish to study and acquire knowledge. Success of this picture, first of all, owes to the good screenplay, excellent knowledge of the subject of artistic work by the director, and combination of features that form the unique, non-stereotyped characters.
The author of present article did not aim to cover entirely all aspects of the current cinematographic process in its variety or to analyze every picture in detail from the thematic and genre perspective; neither had he made attempt to discuss such a controversial subject as “commercial cinema”, which requires a separate study from different angles. Even a brief review of present situation in the state cinema of Uzbekistan shows that a vast creative experience that has been accumulated throughout the years by the different generations of cinematographers is not exhausted, has not dried out. Without a “living water” of innovative traditions of cinema, one can hardly imagine the further development of art and value of its achievements. At the same time, it is impossible to mask contradictions in the cinema process, when along with the true pieces of art exist the products of mean and low quality.