Teymur Hajiyev: The Wound (Yara, 2013)

reviewed by Aliya Dadashova © 2018

The Wound that Stays in the Dark

woundIf we wanted to put a label on the short film The Wound, the word would be darkness: not only because the action in the film happens during the night and ends at dawn; and not because everything that happens remains unclear and we don’t know why those two characters—the driver and the worker—are here, but because the darkness is present in the conceptual approach to the film: both the past and the future are veiled in darkness. It is neither clear what happened yesterday not what will be tomorrow.

The Wound begins with a conversation of two young people (Rasim Jafar and Elmar Imanov). The place, perspective, close-ups and medium shots, and the color scheme warn us about the evil of night. Yet without knowing what the conversation is about, we are in the atmosphere of a noir film.

The following episodes are accompanied by a feeling of mistrust: one of those young people is driving a car now. Next to him is an older worker, whom the driver has taken in the car so that he can throw out the rubbish in the boot.

The atmosphere of the noir film is necessary not for details of a crime, but to attune the viewer to the feelings of mistrust, excitement, and doubt. Who is the driver, what does he want? Why is the worker so quiet, even though he does not know anything?

woundThe unsuccessful conversation shows the generation gap, the differences in values and world views. This may be called a collision of the rational world and blindly protected values. From the first sentence the driver humiliates the old worker, laughs at the values which he protects, breaks his didactic intonation, suppresses his revolt with laughter. Between them the following dialogue takes place: “I have never looked straight into my father’s eyes. But my son abuses his mother. — Your father hasn’t lost out.” An invisible glass pane stops them from understanding each other and from making emotional contact. What is it? Money? Time? The past? The future? Perhaps the pain of a defeat? Or the desire to revenge the past for the present?

The old worker who doesn’t know what’s in the boot, and the young man goes towards his goal with ease, trampling down uncertain values and wanting to be the master of the new day. As a symbol of two different times, two worlds, they accuse each other. What is the cause of the tragedy? The old past that doesn’t pose questions and adheres to some unclear values, doing everything with blind humility? Or the young present that does ask questions sneeringly, and forcedly goes towards the aim, by all means?

woundIn one of the episodes the traffic police ask the worker what they carry in the boot. Although he doesn’t know the answer, the worker infects the police officer with his unfounded faith and a very simple attribute: a white beard.

Perhaps an unknown, serious crime is hidden behind such vague belief, at the expense of stupid indifference. Is this not the core of tragedy? Call him “a good man” simply because “you will throw away garbage” for somebody and get money in exchange is hypocrisy, naiveté, nonsense, or something else?

If this Soviet worker, who calls the driver “a good man,” is so benevolent and ingenuous, then where does that sudden abuse come from? And if he is a mercantile hypocrite, then why give didactic lectures about values? One thing is clear: this man, with all his character and qualities, is tragic. He has the face of an unfortunate person. By the way, the multi-faceted acting of Shamil Suleymanov in the role of the worker is one of the successful features of the film.

woundAnd to live without belief, with doubts in the rational world, which is represented by the driver, can that make a man happy? What can the lonely heroes of the new world achieve—if this aggression destroys them? And what is better: aggressive destructiveness or slavish reconciliation?

In the finale the driver kills the worker after he has done the job. The sun rises as we hear the groans of the worker. What can one expect from a morning that comes with the past groaning and not yet dead? In the end the film raises another question to bring the viewer in the field of thoughts about the past, present and future and direct him to the actual topic: social responsibility.

woundThis is possible due to the skillfully chosen dialogues and actors (Suleymanov’s worker at the same time resembles a decent, conscientious person, and a speculator from the Soviet era), and thanks to the acting, the silent witnessing of the camera, the approach to color and space, the atmosphere created by means of light and sound.

The laconic information rendered by plot and dialogues (what do they carry? why carry? why has he shot the worker? who are these people?) give the context more depth. This is the familiar and actual context of journalism of the last 20 years: the charge that arises with the collision of two eras and two generations.

In spite of the fact that the intonation of the youth, which shows the putridity of values of the past, is softened, questions still remain open. Hajiyev has managed to contain this context in The Wound. The film addresses not only the space joint by Soviet history, but also the people enduring changes, staying face to face with the new an era and a new, rational world.

Aliya Dadashova
Translated by Birgit Beumers

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The Wound, 2013
Short: 17 minutes
Director: Teymur Hajiyev
Script: Teymur Hajiyev, Elmar Imanov
DoP: Borris Kehl
Editing: Rufat Gasanov
Cast: Elmar Imanov, Shamil Suleymanli, Rasim Jafarov
Producers: Teymur Hajiyev, Emin Ibragimov
Production: Fil Production & Cinex Azerbaijan Film & Digital
Festivals: Palm Springs International ShortFest (2014)

Teymur Hajiyev: The Wound (Yara, 2013)

reviewed by Aliya Dadashova © 2018

Updated: 26 Jul 18