A rare, hysterical gem from early Soviet cinema. CHEMI BEBIA (MY GRANDMOTHER) is a Georgian avant-garde slapstick silent comedy that was banned in the Soviet Union for almost 50 years. And it's pretty easy to see why. Whereas later Georgian filmmakers became rather adept at slipping political criticism under the noses of the Soviet censors, this film ends with a completely unambiguous rallying call for the death of bureaucrats. Lots of the creative techniques one associates with early Soviet cinema are on display here, but they are filtered through a sieve of early American slapstick and used mostly (and most successfully) for comedy. Imagine Harold Lloyd starring in Terry Gilliam's BRAZIL and you'll start to get an idea of what MY GRANDMOTHER is like. It's hilarious, and historically it's interesting to watch in that it's just as politically obvious as any other early Soviet film, but in an entirely different way.
Imaginative, innovative, amazing! This is a wonderful film that works on so many levels. As a farce, it's up there with Charlie Chaplin or Monsieur Hulot. It's really funny. The score is absolutely brilliant. The acting is top-notch. As a satire on corruption and bureaucracy, it hits the nail on the head. The elements of surrealism work tremendously well in acting, sets and scenes: just extreme enough to make the point well without losing touch with the underlying reality. Through all this, key themes are maintained. The director also plays effortlessly with gender, age and hierarchical roles, switching and undermining them relentlessly. Innovative film techniques, too, are used exceptionally well: puppetry, collage, distortion plus many more. One could doubtless see this film a dozen times and still find something new.