Valley of the Issa (1982) Poster

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A dense and elliptical adaptation
pscamp016 April 2017
There are two ways of making movie adaptations of novels. The most common way is to make a faithful representation of everything that happens in the book. The Issa Valley takes an alternative approach. It is an expressive interpretation of the source material. The key points of the novel are (presumably) there, but nothing is explained and lots of time are taken with beautiful scenes that seem to have little to do with the story. This is a commendable approach but the problem with it is that it leaves little for viewers who are unfamiliar with the source material (like myself.) The story loosely revolves around Thomas, a Polish boy being raised by his grandparents in a country estate in Lithuania sometime after WWI. There is a large cast of characters and the viewers are left to themselves to figure out who they are and how they relate to Thomas and each other. In addition to that, actors will break character to recite poems by the author, and there are even some scenes filmed in 1980's New York City. The film is beautiful to look at, although the print I saw was pretty washed out. I found the film maddeningly vague, but people familiar with the novel will probably enjoy it much more.
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