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Film Abdulladzhan, or Dedicated to Steven Spielberg

Considering that Musakov’s Abdulladzhan (1991) was dedicated to Steven Spielberg, we might suggest that these four boys embody nothing more complicated than a conflict of youthful innocence with some ominous threat—the basic workings of E.T. (1982) or War of the Worlds (2005), say. That threat, however, is best understood not through vague nationalism or warmed-over socialism, but through the other reference-point of Abdulladzhan—Tarkovskii’s Stalker (1980). Musakov leaves his boys in a simplified radiance so bright and so overexposed that it no longer looks like the skies of sunny Tashkent, but a disturbing, borderless luminosity to match the flat tonal range of Stalker’s “Zone.” Our Uzbek boys are nowhere in particular; this is a broader domain than anything international.

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