13 (Tzameti) (France / Georgia)

This is the place to talk about films from around the world.

13 (Tzameti) (France / Georgia)

Postby trevor826 » Mon Jul 24, 2006 3:33 pm

13 (Tzameti) (2005)

Directed by Gla Babluani

Starring George Babluani

Shot effectively in stark black and white with a slightly rough (at times almost amateurish) feel. Tzameti is a symbolic representaion of mans desire for violence. The thrill of the kill, the buzz of participating in something completely outside of the law where life is cheap and fortunes can be made or lost in a matter of seconds.

Sbastien, a young immigrant earns money from odd jobs. While repairing a roof on a house he overhears a conversation, an old man is awaiting a letter, although no information is given its quite obvious that it will lead to a day or twos work for a great deal of money. There are also other interested parties as far as this letter is concerned. Everyday as soon as the postman has delivered the mail someone takes and checks through it hoping to find the letter.

On the day it finally arrives the old man is first to the box, he takes it straight into his house and runs a bath while preparing to dope himself up. Unfortunately he overdoses and dies in the bath; the letter is blown out of the house and lands with Sbastiens tools. Aware of the old mans death and the chance of a quick buck he hides the letter and decides to follow the instructions within it.

The first half of the film plays out like a spy or crime drama, the instructions include train tickets, hotel bookings, and a telephone call leads to a further trail. Its obvious that whatever the job is, it is highly illegal, maybe drug smuggling, people traffiking, spying etc but the draw of the money and maybe even the thrill of heading into something completely unknown is too much for Sbastien to ignore.

Within a very short space of time he finds out exactly what hes let himself in for, and for all the wanting in the world theres no backing out. Along with twelve other men he takes his place in a circle, each is handed a revolver with one bullet loaded, raising their arms they spin the barrels, aim the pistols at the head of the next in line and wait. A bulb in the centre of the room will light and as per instructions, each man will pull the trigger.

A terrific sense of tension rises and falls constantly during the second part of the film, as each man prepares for the next round of this civilised murder, bored rich men lay hundreds of thousands of euros on the outcome. In between bouts the surviving dropouts and dregs of society drink themselves into a stupor or drug themselves up knowing that within a few minutes they could be joining the mounting pile of corpses.

Rich and poor, greed rules each one, the businessmen with their wagers, the would-be murderers hoping to survive and take the winner's payout. Morality doesnt exist in this atmosphere and for the men like Sbastien, only the prize money, which will help his family greatly and the fear of his own ignominious death keep him going.

Tzameti has won six awards at film festivals including Sundance, the roughness and budget constraints actually help the overall mood, the black and white works marvellously as well, I really couldnt imagine watching it in colour. Tzameti has a timeless feel and is an excellent directorial debut.

Recommended especially if you can catch it in the cinema, it does lose impact on second viewing but thats no real surprise with this type of film. If this has piqued your interest, try and see the original as it is already marked up for a re-make.

Cheers Trev

BBFC rated 15

R2 dvd released by Revolver, extras include interviews with the director and lead actor.

Re: 13 (Tzameti) (France / Georgia)

Postby arsaib4 » Fri Aug 11, 2006 3:47 am

Sorry, Trev, but it'd be an understatement if I said that I strongly disliked 13 (Tzameti). The film's socio-political context, if it existed at all, superficially made the way for cheap thrills of Russian roulette whose result, if one has seen these things before, was a given no matter how sweaty the t-shirts of our protagonist got. The b&w cinematography which served the dilapidated milieu quite well deserved something slightly more significant. (If Babluani thinks that this is "Bressonian" then he should be forced to play the aforementioned game.) I'm not surprised that an English-language remake is already in the process, reportedly with Babluani at the helm.

Re: 13 (Tzameti) (France / Georgia)

Postby trevor826 » Fri Aug 11, 2006 7:26 am

No need for apologies, it's always good to get a few varied opinions of films.

cheap thrills of Russian roulette whose result, if one has seen these things before, was a given no matter how sweaty the t-shirts of our protagonist got
Yes this is unfortunately true, a tried and trusted formula, long in the tooth and unlikely to change in the future. There are ways around it but they require more thought and effort.

The b&w cinematography which served the dilapidated milieu quite well deserved something slightly more significant. (If Babluani thinks that this is "Bressonian" then he should be forced to play the aforementioned game)

If that is the case re Bresson, then I'd have to wholeheartedly agree with your comment.

I must say after seeing it the second time that I enjoyed the vagueness of the first half far more than the somewhat formulaic second half. I'm just sorry that you obviously disliked it to such an extent.

Cheers Trev.

Re: 13 (Tzameti) (France / Georgia)

Postby justindeimen » Tue Mar 13, 2007 5:09 pm

I seem to agree with Trevor. I respond more to pure-cinema emotional outputs than I do to a tight script, incredible acting etc. and this does deliver in that respect. Try as I might, I can't think of another modern movie that has strained so much tension into me like this one has. It's just so damn foreboding from the first few frames that I can hardly believe it.

Anyways, here's my take on it.

Courtesy of MovieXclusive.com


13 Tzameti which won this year's Grand Jury Prize at Sundance for World Cinema (dramatic) is a wickedly gloomy neo-noir thriller that is borne out of a chilling premise and an irrefutably ominous style undertaken by its writer-director, Gela Babluani. In fact, it wouldnt be much of a stretch at all to postulate that the films style and direction is probably the films raison d'tre. Already quite eager to stick his name into the pantheon of revered auteurdom with quite the auspicious start, Babluani, with a banzai of bravado manages to mastermind Hitchcockian measures of claustrophobic suspense in a luring and utterly fascinating feature debut that takes to task Frances socioeconomic disparities to the extreme.

Given that the key to its entire composition is its careful and precise direction and powerful tonal command, the act structure remains clear and simple throughout with the 3 standard acts of discovery, confrontation and resolution. It never validates its intentions as a work of deception by twisting and turning its narrative but instead takes the customary route of withholding vital information and carving out key sequences of exposition that carries the suspense from scene to scene and escalates the stakes from action to action. But despite its obvious narrative simplicity, 13 Tzameti is an incredible beast of a movie in its sheer veracity of spirit. It tells no lies in its discommoding mood and menacing tone, starting off as anxious as it ends. So much so that one has to tip his or her hat to Babluanis giddy verve of combining the films explosive sadism with the keen state of mind to philosophise it later.

In spite of the films clever conceptualisation of the underlying subtext, its hard not to appreciate its terms on a literal level. In no way would I dare to spoil any sort of surprise that the first act evidently wants to lead us to, but I will say that the second act holds on to its guns with tremendous force and the atmospheric tension that hinges off its ferocious drive to allegorise the haves and have-nots in modern France. Specifically, the exploitation of the immigrant populace (the director is a Georgian immigrant) and the desperate, criminal means undertaken by them in order to keep up in society. Then it goes further on to examine the individual in question.

Sebastien (Georges Babluani, the directors brother), a young roofer struggling to support his family is deprived of a vital payment from a household where something shady and potentially profitable is apparently being waited upon. The item arrives in a form of an envelope containing a train ticket and hotel details that through a confluence of events, winds up in the hands of our protagonist. Sebastien, in a fit of financial desperation and wide-eyed naivet follows the instructions that he once overheard and quickly finds himself in a whole heap of trouble. Now, on a level probing Sebastiens predicament, the film argues its case for existential reasoning through the fatalistic circumstances that he finds himself in. Driven by circumstances, he puts himself in a diabolical situation that seems to have been plucked right out of Kafkas mind, and is forced to be a pawn in a cynical game that ultimately comes down to fate and luck.

Keeping with the eeriness of its disposition, 13 Tzameti has its share of distinctive accentuations in its countryside locale, intimidating faces and a creepy overlay of sounds to go along with Babluanis smoothly desolate, encompassing cinematography that is only heightened by his choice of stark visuals. Using a black-and-white canvas throughout the proceedings, it recalls an intensely grim, conscious nightmare that plasters over the hyper-realism of its brutality that while never explicit, also never fails to mask the impact of the viciousness that comes with humanitys venal nature.

Re: 13 (Tzameti) (France / Georgia)

Postby hengcs » Sun Mar 18, 2007 4:39 pm

Here's my take ...

What i like ...

-- Definitely how it ended ... How can you not like the last scene ... so intense, and yet so sad ... that look ... oh no ...

-- Given that I have NOT read any synopsis before that, I actually enjoyed the film (that is, after the first 10 minutes or so) ... I thot it became "exciting" ONLY AFTER the letter arrived ... before that, I thot it was not very thrilling (albeit the soundtrack) ... the moment the wife looked suspiciously, i thot it became interesting ... however, most of us would think that the wife and the other guy in the car were "bad people" ... who would have guessed otherwise ...

What could be better ...

-- somehow, during the game, most audience would "believe" that the main protagonist would survive all the rounds (hence, losing the "tension" to some extent) ... if only the director had let him "die" ... hmmm ... and maybe someone else became the main protagonist ... hiaks hiaks ... to me, the ending still helped save my impression of the entire film ...

-- hmmm, i thot the beginning 10 min or so werent exactly necessary ...

Want to talk about?

-- why did you think it is impt to film in black and white ... would the mood/essence be gone if it were filmed in color?

Recommended ...

Return to Film Talk

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests