In the Fog (2012) — Image via

In the Fog

Directed by Sergei Loznitsa (2012)

In the Fog (V tumane), the second narrative feature by Sergei Loznitsa, previously known for his documentary work, is a slow, atmospheric meditation on the actions of ordinary people under extreme circumstances. Based on a novel by Vasil Bykov, the film portrays events in a rural area of occupied Belarus during World War II.

Sushenya (Vladimir Svirskiy), a railroad worker, is suspected of collaborating with the Germans, who recently arrested him and then set him free after hanging three of his coworkers for causing a train derailment. Two partisans — Burov (Vladislav Abashin), who grew up down the street from Sushenya, and his sidekick Voitik (Sergei Kolesov) — are sent to execute Sushenya for his alleged crime. Over the course of the film, we see the outcome of this mission, interspersed with flashbacks showing how each of the three main characters got to this point.

In the Fog (2012) — Image via inthefog-movie.comIn the Fog portrays acts of both heroism and cowardice, or at least acts that would normally be understood in those ways, but these acts are generally portrayed as being the result of almost mundane considerations on the part of the characters. For instance, when the Germans expropriate Burov’s car, which he built himself, for their own use, his reaction appears to be motivated at least originally by resentment that they have taken something that belongs to him. Yet this reaction is his first step toward taking an active role in the local resistance movement.

At one point, Sushenya and Voitik discuss the impact of war on people’s personalities. Voitik argues that war profoundly changes people, while Sushenya argues that people remain fundamentally the same as they were during peacetime. The film seems to tilt toward Sushenya’s point of view, suggesting that the ways in which people change may be driven by the ways in which they remain the same.

The film’s long takes and overall slow pace give viewers plenty of time to linger over both the facial expressions of the actors and then lush scenery of the forest in which most of the action is set, beautifully shot by cinematographer Oleg Mutu. In the Fog rewards viewers’ patience with images and events that will stick in the mind.

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Eric Prindle

administers Bad Entertainment. He is also an attorney who leads a team of legal marketing copywriters at FindLaw. He is not Eric Prindle, the mixed martial arts fighter.