Sunday, September 23, 2007

Nochnoy Dozer (Night Watch)

I finally got a chance to see the sequel to this (Day Watch) after months of waiting. Before writing a review of that, however, I thought I should cover this one first. I was lucky enough to see Night Watch at the 2006 Athens Film Fest because it was sold out for every show. Based on the series of sci-fi books by Russian author Sergei Lukyanenko, this was one of the most successful Russian movies of all time- deservedly.

The forces of light and dark waged an epic war, but formed a truce hundreds of years ago. An agreement was reached that neither one could directly influence humans in their decisions, and they must be left to their own devices. Two groups were formed to keep the other in check. The Night Watch is a group of light "others" who have to keep the dark "others" in line, and the Day Watch is the opposing force. Near the beginning of the movie, Anton Gorodetski is deceived by a dark other, but the Night Watch intervenes and arrests the woman responsible. As a result, Anton somehow gains powers and is able to see the others. He decides to join the Nightwatch, and becomes one their agents. The main bit of the movie is set in present day Moscow, with a coming Apocalypse. The world is at a crossroads with a cursed woman, Svetlana, bringing about the end of the world (unknowingly), and the prophesied great one, Yegor, who will choose either dark or light, and help that side win the war for eternity.

The plot is a little convoluted, and it took me a second viewing to get everything- especially with all the Russian names and references that might not make sense to an
American viewer. There was no shortage of bizarre scenes, such as Olga, the Nightwatch agent that was imprisoned in the body of an owl. These were all done with visual effects splendor, and an artistic eye. As bizarre as they looked, it just seems to make sense.

What I really liked about this movie, besides the stunning visuals and unique directing by Timur Bekmambetov, was the concept of the conflict. The two sides, despite being at war with each other, have a mutual agreement not to interfere. The light others are not purely good, and the dark others are not purely bad. They are all somewhere in the middle. From what I've heard, the movie differs greatly from the book, leaving some viewers dissatisfied. I'm assuming most people haven't read them, however, so just enjoy the movie for what it is, a fantastic sci-fi allegory.


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