Macedonian Culture and Its Audiences: An Analysis of "Before the Rain" by Keith S. Brown

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The Example of Before The Rain.
The script of Before the Rain was written by its director, Milcho Manchevski in 1991 after a visit home to Macedonia from the United States. British Screen picked up the script for development in 1993. The film’s production was orchestrated by companies in London and Paris, and it received backing from British, French and Macedonian sources. It was shot with a budget of under $3 million in Macedonia for seven weeks and London for three. The crew and actors were drawn from more than half-a-dozen countries in total, including France, Britain, South Africa and Bulgaria (Pall 1995). This multi-national ensemble of money and labour created a film which shared the Golden Lion of Venice in 1994, and collected a score or so of other awards from film festivals. Its crowning achievement was a 1995 Oscar nomination for best foreign-language film.iii

With regard to plot, the central story follows a photographer who returns to Macedonia after a successful career in the West, and gets involved in the ongoing conflicts of his homeland. This narrative unfolds in a non-linear fashion, through an episodic structure. The film has three parts, entitled Words, Faces and Pictures. In Words, a frightened Albanian girl is hidden by a young Macedonian monk. A group of armed Macedonian villagers interrupt a church service, looking for an Albanian girl who has killed their leader’s brother. The monastery is searched, but they don’t find the girl; the monastery officials do, and send her away with the young monk. The couple are met by a group of armed Albanians, led by her grandfather. They send the monk away: when she follows him, her brother kills her.

In Faces, a Macedonian photojournalist, tired of covering wars around the world returns to London from Bosnia. He tells his British lover that he plans to return to the peace of Macedonia. She refuses his offer that she go with him, and instead seeks a reconciliation with her estranged husband. In the restaurant where they meet for dinner a quarrel begins between a waiter and a stranger, conducted in a Balkan language. The quarrel escalates, shooting begins, and the husband is killed by stray shots.

In Pictures, the narrative refocuses on the photojournalist as he returns home to his native village. His visit to a former sweetheart, an Albanian widow, only reveals the hostility between Macedonians and Albanians. His cousin is knifed in unknown circumstances, and a local group of Macedonians capture the young Albanian girl who they believe killed him. She is the daughter of the photographer’s sweetheart; he rescues her, is killed by another cousin, and she runs away to the monastery. The film thus, as it were, begins again.

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