Last week our class got the chance to watch the film, Before the Rain, before heading off for our Fall Break.First I would like to point out the cinematography that helped transport the audience to the tragedies that takes place with in the film. With wide open shots of monastery to the bustling city streets in London, the he film is visually beautiful. Now the film itself is very unique. Unlike most films you see in the theaters, “Before the Rain” is set up in three parts that do not traditionally go in chronological order. Needless to say, immediately after watching the film, I was very confused. It took a second time to watch the film on my own to truly understand what and why the film was produced in that fashion. In the following post, I will discuss different messages within the film and my insight on the theories on the chronological order of the film.
Upon watching the film, it did not take long to realize that film was not going in chronological order. At the end of the chapter “Words,” we see the Muslim girl Zamira killed by, what appears to be, her family. After, photos of a dead Zamira show up in the next chapter of “Faces.” Now this instance would make the audience feel like they are watching a traditional movie but this is contradicted when we are re-acquainted with Zamira in the chapter of “Pictures.” Now according to a review on the film, “The motto of the film was, "The Circle is not Round" seen in graffiti form on a wall during Pictures but actually stands to deliver a message that in life, people and places may change but overshadowing scenarios (such as conflicts) go backward and forward in a cycle.”
"Time never dies. The circle is not round," is the slogan we see at different areas throughout the film. It's spoken by a priest in "Words," and then it's seen as graffiti in "Faces.” According to a blog known as “Criterion Confessions,” he states that “It's a seemingly contradictory statement since the movie is very much a circle, with the ending of the film taking us right back to the beginning.” This slogan may refer to the design of the film and gives some credit to my time traveling theory.
Out of all the theories of the film, I believe the time travel theory is my favorite. When watching the film, you will notice that there are several story points that are out of place. Time in Before the Rain does not seem to follow the laws of physics and that it doubles back on itself at random. In the chapter "Words," we see Anne looking at photos of Kiril and Zamira before Aleksandar leaves to go back home, but as events will show us, he clearly could have not have taken those photos, at least not by that point in the timeline. After he has left and is on his way to Macedonia, Anne also takes a call for Aleksandar, in which I assumed it was Kiril at first. After watching the film a second time, I am lead to believe that the photographer is actually the uncle he mentioned in London and may very well be the one who was calling. The time travel aspect of the film centers on Aleksandar and his attempt to fix the past. Unfortunately, as time travel movies will show, one can never change the past. Therefore, Alex’s attempt to going back in time accidentally instigates the events he is trying to stop. This has also happened in somewhat of literary sense, as he has tried to return to his childhood home as a way to escape violence and then becomes a part of it.
Again, to refer back to the blog of “Criterion Confession,” the author stated that “It's through this seeming anomaly that Before the Rain makes its most compelling argument for the inevitability of human action and the difficulty we have in affecting change. Life goes on and on, despite our best efforts to help or hinder it.” Ultimately, the film is trying to state that time is bigger than us and beyond our control. As a closing statement, I refer back to the film and the same priest who first says that "Time never dies" amends that assertion in the final montage to "Time doesn't wait."