Bird of Fire

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It also provides a stark contrast to the tenderness and deep emotion of their interactions. Seeing them naked isn’t just sexual; it is to see them freed from the harsh constraints and dull, identical formalism of their uniforms, in a state of nature. It’s a smart move to place their happiest, most liberated times away from barracks and drills. Their embrace in the water is a rebirth in a natural world.

A different kind of immersion produces images that bloom on the page to reveal and capture a moment, a look, a connection between subject and observer. The delicate process of developing the photographs is another counterbalance to the crude and impersonal military setting. Building and uniform design and endless rules aim to obliterate individuality, even time itself with its day-to-day sameness. Everything is directed towards order for the greatest efficiency of possibility of attack and destruction. The first photograph taken in the film could be a simple snapshot of three colleagues. But this takes on great significance early on as the group has to lie about the purpose of the photo to appear to be following the rules, and then later on as the photographer and the subjects will stray very far from the simple camaraderie of this moment.

When Sergey tells Roman he has never seen ballet, Roman arranges for him to visit a Stravinsky rehearsal. Fire Bird, based on the myth of the magic bird being captured and freed by a prince, later returning to save the prince from an evil immortal. This film is a bittersweet love story about characters overwhelmed by oppression, but the theme of liberation is as palpable as the sense of loss.

Now showing in theaters.

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