What do we see when we watch the Sky: The World is Magic movie review if you pay attention
About an hour after the start of Alexander Koberidze’s Georgian film, What do we see when we look at the sky?, I finally realized the significance of the title. The scene follows a group of children playing football, but in slow motion, cut to Notti Magiche, composed by Giorgio Moroder, the official song of the 1990 FIFA World Cup.
This scene is a momentary break in the arthouse immobility of the film. Until then, I had seen a calm and gentle film, offbeat by a magical-realistic premise that is soon left hanging like a thought bubble as the film becomes a lyrical document of Kutaisi, one of the most Georgia’s oldest and most populated.
Mubi’s outing begins with Lisa and Giorgi meeting one morning. When they meet again in the evening, they plan to go on a date the following night. But Lisa is soon warned by a seedling, a surveillance camera and a gutter that an “evil eye” has cursed her. When Lisa wakes up the next day, she will see her appearance changed.
Lisa quickly leaves the scene, before the wind can transmit more crucial information: Giorgi’s appearance will also be changed, so that the two future lovers will be forever tormented, unable to recognize each other.
The curse turns out to be real. Lisa (Ani Karseladze and Oliko Barbakadze) and Giorgi (Giorgi Ambroladze and Giorgi Bochorishvili) not only lose their faces, but also their talents. Football fan Giorgi can no longer hit the ball on the right. Medical student Lisa has forgotten her lessons. Hoping to meet up somehow, Lisa takes a job at the cafe where she was supposed to meet Giorgi. On the other hand, Giorgi starts working for a roadside concert where passers-by are offered a cash prize, if they can hang from a metal bar for two minutes. Later, I made YouTube and I discovered that it was a reality in Europe.
If it sounds like What do we see when we look at the sky? is a twee and eccentric fantasy like Amélie, it’s not. Lisa and Giorgi’s piece gradually becomes part of a larger whole. Koberidze turns his attention to the setting: Kutaisi, its people, animals, culture, history and public spaces. Holding the film deliberately paced and meticulously framed is Koberidze’s deadpan voiceover.
As I couldn’t stop watching, I grew impatient wondering where this movie is going. I finally found an answer in the scene I mentioned at the beginning.
When we look up at the sky, we are blinded by the sun, infinity, the universe itself, and we feel tiny, part of a common humanity. The universality of this experience and the need to see the world again with a curious and benevolent gaze is what Koberidze communicates with his film.
For example, Faraz Fesharaki’s camera overlooks the city’s many football fans, sometimes framing someone’s head, feet, or face in close-up, or sometimes stepping away and observing the community as a whole, so they watch a game together. Koberidze’s voiceover tells the story of the city and its people. When the camera is turned to the dogs of the city, Koberidze’s narration gives them names, personalities, stories. In this football scene at the center of the film, Koberidze’s intention becomes clear. He asks us to pay attention to the people and the world around us.
I became confident with my interpretation in the second half of the film. The film is divided into two parts. The first part begins with a quote from the work of Georgian author Rezo Cheishvili: “‘These morons have never seen a crow,’ thought Guia A, ‘But you couldn’t notice anything on his face.'”
The second half, which begins after this football scene, begins with another quote: “Once I saw in Kutaisi market gioconda, she was selling herbs” from A Story Forgotten by All by Levan Chelidze.
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Both quotes are about seeing. The first is to reprimand morons who neglect what should arouse wonder. The second is to quietly observe something mundane. In a way, Koberidze not only alerts us to the themes of the film, but also tells us how to watch the film.
Koberidze develops the themes of his voiceover a little more in the second half. He speaks obliquely about the brutality of the world and how people, like those in his film, or the public, are oblivious or indifferent to it. In this situation, what difference does his cinema make? He says that even though there are bad things happening in the world, interesting things like a man and a woman losing face, or a group of dogs bonding over football, are happening all around us. He does not know what such things mean, but he knows that it is important to see and recognize them. What else is life and cinema about?
Movie: What do we see when we look at the sky?
To throw: Ani Karseladze, Giorgi Bochorishvili, Oliko Barbakadze, Giorgi Ambroladze
Director: Alexander Koberidze