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The Forgiveness of Blood

The Forgiveness of Blood

Released 10 August 2012
Director Joshua Marston

Tristan Halilaj, Sindi Lacej, Refet Abazi, Ilire Vinca Celaj

Joshua Marston, Andamion Murataj
Producer(s) Paul Mezey

United States, Albania, Denmark, Italy
Running Time 109 minutes
Genre Drama
Rating TBC

Once upon a time in the Balkans.

Before he began filming Citizen Kane, Orson Wells claimed to have watched John Ford's Stagecoach over forty times for inspiration. The reason for this is that Wells was a big fan of Ford’s camera work and his contrasting long angle landscape shots and intimate close-ups.

Joshua Marston’s The Forgiveness of Blood (follow-up to the acclaimed Maria Full of Grace) owes a similar debt to the cinematography of Ford. Set in rural Albania, it follows the fortunes of a family involved in a feud with their neighbours. When their father is accused of killing his neighbour over a patch of land, teenagers Rudina and Nik (Sindi Lacej and Tristan Halilaj) are forced into effective house arrest for fear of violent reprisal. With their father on the run, the children become a valid target for a revenge killing under the law of the land – the Kanun.

This prolonged confinement is handled with a slow elegance, with the claustrophobic interior of their family home juxtaposed by sweeping landscape shots of idyllic countryside. The subtle but beautiful direction is nothing short of wonderful, with occasional moments of grandeur, and plenty of intimate depictions of the microscopic elements of everyday life. There is even a moment where Nik stands in the doorway of his home looking out at the world with his back to the camera, in what can only be paying homage to John Wayne’s iconic pose in the final shot of Ford’s The Searchers.

The Forgiveness of Blood is at heart a piece of social realism. The young actors’ performances are realistic and down to earth, and director Marston (who also works as a journalist) is clearly documenting more or less true events. But it is the fact that he does so with such style that marks him out as a superb contemporary director.

- Bernard O’Rourke