The World Is Big and Salvations Lurks Around the Corner (Stephan Komandarev, 2008): Bulgaria, Germany, Slovenia, Hungary

Reviewed by Lea Encarnacion.  Viewed at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

The World Is Big and Salvation Lurks around the Corner (Svetat e golyam i spasenie debne otvsyakade), directed by Stephan Komandarev is Bulgaria’s official submission to the 82nd Academy Awards Foreign Language in 2010.  It is based on an autobiographic novel by Ilija Trojanow.  The film begins with Alexander Georgiev, a young Bulgarian man who is driving in a car with his parents when a tumultuous and catastrophic car accident occurs as they travel down the highway, and both his parents are killed.  The title screens and Alexander wakes up with no recollection of the past in a hospital bed.

His grandfather comes to visit him in the hospital but he doesn’t remember who he is, sadly.  After many attempts to make Alexander remember him with no success, he decides to take him on a journey across the country on a bicycle to help him remember the places when he was a kid.  They stop at all the places where he spent his childhood and his grandfather reintroduces to him the game of backgammon, which he taught to Alexander as a young boy.

Slowly and gradually, his memories come back through a series of flashbacks.  Interweaved with these flashbacks of his childhood are memories of the events leading up to the car crash that put him in the hospital and killed his parents.  The whole time his grandfather was not saying to him that his parents are dead, and he had to found out about it by his own memory, which is very and deeply saddening.  In the end, he challenges his grandfather to a game of backgammon and he triumphantly wins.

The cinematography and editing in this film, as well as most of the acting is very beautiful, seemingly natural and talented.  Although, I left the theatre feeling like this movie was quite corny because of the ending. I found that the plot was not as outstanding as I thought it would be and the meaning of the film is very cliche and has been done many times before. I can see how this film can garner many awards, since it is a beautiful story with talent all around. This is an uplifting film but it misses the point of its story and doesn’t follow through at the ending.  I really like the lead actor, Carlo Ljubek‘s talent and would like to see more of his films in the future.  As for the movie, I would recommend it to others, but there are other films out there that bring the same message and are better than this film overall.

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