The Tribe Miroslav
Slaboshpitski (Ukr 2014) Grigory Fesenko. Yana Novikova. Rosa Babiy
Viewed: Tyneside Cinema; 19 May 2015; ticket: £8:50
The new brutality: fear and craving
The film’s title, the Tribe,
points away from its actual setting to a new emergent world ethos.
Slaboshpitski’s Tribe is widely
remarked for using its setting in a boarding establishment for deaf adolescents
to dispense with spoken language. The
whole movie has its interpersonal communication signed. A few films post silent era have done without
language, noticeably Themroc. As in Themroc,
so in Tribe the lack of conventional communication is a metaphore, rather than
a device for suggesting a social realist ethos.
A metaphore for our inablilty to
listen or speak to each other.
The critical element in Tribe is
the creation of a world that works according to its own internal rules with
relations to outside worlds restricted to strict economic exchange: Slaboshpitski’s deaf tribe, like a remote Amazonian tribe
that wants to preserve its own world,
even if the cost of that preservation is a corruption and distortion of that
As film, The Tribe creates a world
where no one can hear and no one can speak.
Rather than being set in the realm of an actual institution for the deaf, the tribe is set in a world where all
communication has been reduced to the expression of need and the satisfaction
of need. Slaboshpitski persues a line of development based on the
empoverishment and debasement of intellectual and emotional
life. With no one able to hear or speak
what is left for the Tribe is a one dimensional premise that constrains their
relations their communications and lives
within the crude parameters of fear and craving.
At its broadest the Tribe encompasses a moral parody of Western consummerist capitalism with its politics increasingly defined by the amplification circuitry of the media. Consumers are whipped up into states of fear and then placated by the soothing balms of holidays or products. But the specific moral target of the Tribe is surely the erruption into the world of a new order of rule by brutality. As a Ukrainian film, Slaboshpitski is pointing directly to the forces unleashed in Ukraine by the break up of the Soviet Union and Russia’s attempt to redraw the map that it drew in 1991. The defining characteristic of the conflict: the inablility of the antogonists to hear or speak to one another and their consequent recourse to mindless brutality that is perpetrated in cold blood and immediately minimalised denied or blamed on the other side. The politics and mind set of Hitler, in which a look is as good as a command to exterminate, re-appear. And in the face of this brutality, civilian aircraft shot out of the sky, the outside world, like the authorities in the deaf insititution, tur away themselves lost for words, unable to respond. The brutal has become the everyday,and the inflation of horror leads to ever greater desensitisation to what is happening. Isil as well as other forces are re- familiarising the West with the rule of brutality. The logic of the one dimensional world governed by religious belief systems establishing a new order of regime based on self destruction and annihilation for the sake of eternal paradise. As under the Nazi’s ethnic beliefs, so under Isil’s religious beliefs, mass exterminations and killings are a calculated expression of the belief system. The ideology of brutality, the public and vicious executions carried out in a manner to maximise pain both to the victim and their relations, carry the twin message of the self confidence of the perpetrators and intimidation of those who oppose. The Tribe reaches out as a filmic expression of the new regimes of Terror. Slaboshpitski matches his moral intent with the way he has shot his film. Filmed almost entirely in long takes there are two predominant types of shot. The still frame shot. Where the action takes place within frame. The camera doesn’t flit from shot reaction shot, it is not interested in point of view or state of mind, it is only intersted in what is in front of the lens, and makes the demand that we look at what is before our eyes without flinching. The cultured West perhaps always wants to look away from what is disagreeable. We turned our gaze away from Nazi Germany. because we found it more comfortable to look away and pretend not to have seen. But what is happening is happening in front of us: on all our media. So Slaboshpitski presents us with a camera that does not turn away. The other type of shot which features is the tracking shot down straight lines: institutional corridors, rows of trucks. This shot builds into the film a representation of a view into the future always restricted to the narrow dimensionality of two sides, vision is always tunnel vision. There are no broad vistas, no outside, just the world tapering to a disappearing point. A world strictly bounded by closed in borders. Tribe is a film without hope. It is a world of brutality. It is a world the West has not yet woken up to. Adrin Neatrour firstname.lastname@example.org