Response to The Return
by Kristina Radford
This movie struck me as a dark tale of miscommunication and misunderstanding between parent and child. The father in this film reappears after twelve years of absence with no explanation of his adventures away from home. The youngest son Ivan is distraught over the father’s reappearance and seeks answers to what took his father away from their family for so long. Without an explanation Ivan finds it difficult to honor his father's commands and shows blatant disrespect for the man he was told to abide by. The older brother, Andre on the other hand is delighted to have his father back and wants to please the man by following his every order. Without proper explanation of his wants and actions the father has isolated Ivan and alienated him from wanting to be a good son. Ivan feels as if his father is a dangerous mystery man and uses caution when dealing with his antics. The father shows a need to be supportive of his children and you get the idea he wants to teach them everything he knows about being a man. However he has little patience or compassion for either of the boys and I feel his expectations for their behaviors were much too high. I feel a strong relation to Ivan’s actions toward his father. If placed in the same situation I would not want to be managed by this man I did not know anything about a man who I felt had abandoned me my entire life and could not feel the importance and necessity of an honest explanation of what he had been doing.
I felt a lot of symbolism being used in this movie especially in the use of the tower in the beginning and the end. It reminds me The Tower card used in a tarot deck. The Tower card depicts a large tower that has suddenly been struck by a powerful bolt of lightening. The lightening strike is so powerful it has knocked the towers two occupants out of its open windows and they are forever suspended in the air seemingly falling toward dangerous and deadly sharp rocks. When examining The Tower card one can only assume impending misfortune for the two people falling. If they reach the jagged rocks below their bodies will surely break from the brute force. This concept of The Tower tarot card mirrors the story of Ivan and Andre with the return of their father. Out of the blue their father strikes back into their lives with no warning and given no ideas as to why they are sent on a thrilling and dangerous voyage partly filled with excitement and dread. The boys are given little time to think about what this sudden change means for their lives before they are isolated with this unknown patriarchal force. The boys are uncertain of what their fishing trip with their father will hold much like the people falling from the tower are unable to know weather their fall will be the end of their lives or a crippling start to a new life. The tower seems to imply destruction and uncertainty as does the fathers attitude toward his children.
Perhaps his long absence from home has hardened the father's heart or maybe there is a cultural gap I do not understand about the way Russian people deal with their children. I do feel that much of the complications in this movie could have been avoided if the father could have shown a little bit of compassion. His lack of empathy facilitated his demise as he fell from the tower and the two boys are left with further ambivalent feelings toward the man they were expected to respect and adore with no solid explanation to his actions.