In the mist-laden Carpathian Mountains of 19th-century Ukraine, an ethnic Hutsul youth named Ivan (Mikolaichuk) falls for Marichka (Kadochnikova), the daughter of the man who murdered his father. Over the years, their forbidden love deepens. But when poverty forces Ivan to leave his village — and Marichka — in search of work, the fate of these star-crossed lovers turns tragic.
Hailed as a masterpiece of Soviet cinema upon its release in 1964, “Ancestors” was actually suppressed by the Russians for its aesthetic decadence and failure to adhere to the official program of “social realism.” Clearly influenced by 1960s art cinema and the French New Wave, Paradjanov (“The Color of Pomegranates”) tells his Ukrainian Romeo and Juliet story using an array of bold visual devices: double exposures, color tinting, and surrealist imagery, all cohering into a dreamlike weave of mystical and poetic force, like a phantasmagoric fairy tale for the psychedelic generation. No wonder the Soviet censors couldn’t stomach it! Prepare to be dazzled by this unusual and magnificent film, which thankfully hasn’t been forgotten.