Beyond the river: short film review

Beyond the river

★★★★

Directed by: Luca Zambolin

Starring: Brixhilda Shqalsi, Elisabetta Salvatori, Marco Paolini

Short Film Review by: #StefaniaMihailescu

We all love to travel but not quite back in time, during the first world wide war.

In occupied Italy during the 1940s, after the attacks, the people of Italy, demoralised and hungry, felt less and less to support the war effort of their country.

Antonia, the main character of the film, her mother and a dozen peasant women live on a farm. There are no animals as they have all been seized by the Germans. One day, Antonia wanders to the river that divides the countryside from the city and finds a horse that has escaped from the war. Deciding to keep it, she puts everyone’s life in peril.

Yet, the next day she obeys her mother’s demand and takes the horse back.

It’s bizarre how we can get so offended and angry when other people hurt us, and yet repeatedly choose to torture ourselves, far worse than they possibly could, through repeated mental rehashing.

When we acknowledge our weaknesses, there’s often an implied sense of judgment, as if we should never make any mistakes. After all everything in life is impermanent and there are no guarantees.

The film portrays the split in the middle of the decline of a civilization and the dawn of a new one. It is a historical period of boundaries. On one side the simplicity of the past and on the other the future, relentless, complex and fast-moving. Antonia and the peasant women living in the Italian countryside in the 1940s are in the center, a point out in the middle of nowhere battered by waves of violence. The entire war transpires in the distance, beyond the river dividing the two worlds.

Curiosity is a fundamental thing. There can be almost no life without seeking and acquiring knowledge about the environment, and mostly about the thinks we don’t know. Antonia seems to know that living with the knowledge that death is close at hand can take a huge emotional toll, and that the fear of death and dying is quite common. In the same time courage is not the absence of fear, and she proves to be extremely decided.

The director’s wish was to capture the sentiment of change within the people. This feeling is rendered evident in the character of Antonia and in the choices she will be forced to make. Taking action in spite of all the fear makes her the symbol of freedom.

The final scene puts you in a quiet corner where you stare and wonder about all the little things.