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Let dad hear: Paternal love in the films “Abnormal”, “Bauyrina Salu” and “Like Father and Son” at the festival “The Spirit of Fire – 2024”

What would an ideal father-son relationship look like? It seems that many directors tried to answer this question in their films presented at the International First Film Festival “The Spirit of Fire”, which this year is traditionally held in Khanty-Mansiysk from March 23 to 26. The most surprising thing is that this view partially overlaps and exists among people from different cultures. We are talking about the Russian film “Abnormal” by Ilya Malanin, the Chinese drama “Like Father and Son” by Bai Zhiqian and the Kazakh film, the winner of the main competition “Bauyrina Salu” by Askhat Kuchirinenkov.

The Fashion Vibes previously talked about the best films and winners of the Spirit of Fire 2024 film competition. Today we will talk about why these three movies truly touched everyone’s heart.


First, let’s try to count how many movies talk about mother’s love. Even in stories where the mother-child relationship is not central, natural instinct remains the catalyst of the plot. Take Ultraviolet, in which Milla Jovovich’s character kidnaps and then refuses to kill a nine-year-old clone child with a genetic weapon in his DNA. In Game of Thrones, mothers are the ones who treat their enemies most brutally for the sake of their children’s love. You can continue for a long time. So when was the last time we saw an example of sincere love between father and son?

According to the 2021 census, the number of single mothers in Russia is 37.7% and the number of single fathers is 8.2%. At the same time, grandparents are often involved in raising children.


“Abnormal” – Love is like medicine

This is the kind of family we saw in the movie “Nonnormal”, where eight-year-old Kolya (Elisey Svezhentsev) lives with his single mother and grandmother (Nadezhda Markina). Their days are similar to each other and resemble an endless struggle for survival: mother Tatyana (Natalya Kudryashova) works in a pharmacy and saves money for expensive drugs to treat her son’s rare disease, muscle fatigue syndrome, which causes the boy to suffer from memory loss. lost and wheelchair-bound body.

A frame from the movie “Unbalanced”

Already all doctors and acquaintances are shouting with one voice: to leave the child in a private boarding school and arrange his personal life. “After all, you are still young and can give birth to a healthy child,” they tell her. But the woman continues to believe in the best. And by showing everything as it is, she brings her next suitor directly to her home. “Why would he wait two weeks if he was going to run away anyway?” – explains his action to his mother. But unexpectedly, eccentric engineer Yuri (Alexander Yatsenko) returns with a strange book and without further ado begins training the sick boy. Following Kolya’s interest in classical music, he finds a device that will enable him to play the piano. And it bears fruit. Maybe the truth is that hands are directly related to the functioning of the brain? Most likely, daily finger activity promoted the strengthening of nerve connections, causing the disease to recede. Although Yuri is unlikely to agree with this, he does not trust official medicine, personified by greedy corporations. Knows that a person has the ability to heal himself. Where? This was told by an orphanage worker who helped him stand up with the help of gymnastics.

A frame from the movie “Unbalanced”

True, at some point Yuri gets carried away, and Kolya becomes not just a son, but also a “project, a lifetime’s work”: he dreams of making the boy an excellent musician. While the stepfather instills in the child that being special is a privilege, the boy himself, who has been excluded from society since birth, dreams of getting rid of the “abnormal” stigma. And he feels the spirit of freedom most strongly in China, where he and Yuri come to a music competition. The maturing Nikolai (Illarion Marov) realizes this while walking through Beijing at night with a charming Chinese woman with the Russian name Anna (Xu Shiyue), who accompanies foreign guests. That’s when he realized he didn’t want to play the great classics: he wanted to compose his own music.

What deserves special attention is how organically the Chinese and Russian actors perform in the frame. It turns out the language barrier isn’t a barrier. The scene in the karaoke bar where Nikolai confesses to Anna that he does not recognize Vitas’ song popular among the Chinese raises a smile.

A frame from the movie “Unbalanced”

While watching, you get the impression that the director has created an ideal father image on the screen. The one that he (and not only she) dreams of. After all, we are more often faced with the fact that men leave families, especially those with special children. For this reason, it seems that the hero of the movie is a character that cannot be encountered in real life. Malanin fulfilled the dream of many children who grew up without a father. Yuri was not only there, he gave the boy wings. And this is very valuable.


“Like Father and Son” – Love through pain

Chinese director Bai Zhiqiang showed a completely different ideal father. Let’s start with the fact that the main characters in the movie “Like Father and Son” are also not blood relatives. We can say that fate brought them together by chance, even against their will. An unemotional and unsociable merchant (Hui Wangjun) and a street urchin (Bai Zeze) are left in the care of the great uncle. After a young man causes a pogrom in a merchant’s van, the car’s owner plans to find his family to compensate for his loss at any cost. The boy himself never saw his father and mother, who allegedly went to the city to earn money, as he was told.

A frame from the movie “Like Father and Son”

This is a road movie about two lonely people. The man expresses his anger and does not attend the ceremony with the “hostage”, whom he constantly punches. But later we realize that he wasn’t always like this. Take, for example, how carefully he treats the child’s toy keychain in the window of his minibus. In one of the scenes, a merchant brutally beats an acquaintance whose beloved son turns out to be dead.

The unfortunate merchant and his little friend will have to get into trouble more than once on the way. True, a common misfortune gradually brings together two lonely hearts that have completely forgotten how to love and show affection. This is shown in the scene where the main character leaves the boy alone on an empty road and then returns for him, bursting into laughter.

A frame from the movie “Like Father and Son”

You finally realize that they are torturing each other because they have nowhere to vent their despair. In one of the scenes, a merchant approaches the main character, ready to pay for his “son” to stand at the counter and beg for coins. The man agrees at first, but soon regrets allowing the child to be abused. Apparently, he sincerely hopes to find his parents, who, as it turns out later, died long ago.

This breaks the ice between them: A widower who lost his child buys the child new clothes, shows him a good life, rents an expensive hotel with his own money and decides to find a good family for the orphan. But the orphan stays with him. “Is this fireworks for me? Just for me? “No one did anything for me,” the child cries.


“Bauyrina salu” – Love as a test

The festival’s winning film, Spirit of Fire, also explores the complex relationship between father and son. The name “Bauyrina salu” refers to the ancient nomadic tradition of leaving the firstborn child in the care of older relatives, usually grandparents. Therefore, children grow up without parental love.

A frame from the movie “Bauyrina salu”

It is in this environment that 12-year-old Ersultan spends his childhood. The boy helps his grandmother with the housework, and in his free time he works hard carrying salt cubes, which are abundant in the steppe lakes of Kazakhstan. She carefully deposits her proceeds into a volume of books hidden in a closet beneath a pile of laundry. He needs money to go to the settlement where his mother and father live. At night, Ersultan climbs under the blanket with a flashlight and looks at the photographs of his parents, whom he misses very much even though he has never seen them.

A frame from the movie “Bauyrina salu”

“Why don’t you collect your grandmother’s pension?” – his friend asks. Ersultan knows that it is easier this way, but his grandmother is the whole world to him, she is the only loved one he cannot betray. Moreover, he needs to go to the city for treatment. Unfortunately, the old woman dies on the way and Ersultan strangely realizes his dream. Finally he goes to his family. True, the family nest greets him coldly. To them he is a burden and an extra mouth to feed.

A frame from the movie “Bauyrina salu”

The father tries to teach Ersultan to work; The boy goes with him to chop wood, takes care of cows, and learns to ride a horse. But all this is difficult for him. The father sees all his son’s failures as a mockery and takes out his anger on him, blaming him with a piece of bread. When he realizes that he is lying, he does not hold back and punches him. Adjustment isn’t just difficult at home; Children are also bullied at Ersultan school.

A frame from the movie “Bauyrina salu”

At night, the child again climbs under the blanket with a flashlight, but now he mourns the dream of an ideal father and mother, burning a worn-out photo in their hearts. When he nearly kills a classmate in a fight, his father spanks him. However, the dam of patience is broken and the child expresses everything he feels. Ironically, the father admits his mistake and hugs his own son to his chest.

How many other children are there in the world who need their father’s love, but without songs and movies dedicated to him? Maybe now is the time for men to stop being ashamed of their feelings, especially towards children.

Source: People Talk

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