Directed By: Bobby Garabedian | East Wind Films | 33 minutes
Starring Vladimir Javorsky, Lada Ondrej, Linda Rybova
Most is an extraordinary Czech film which was sadly overlooked even though it was nominated for an Oscar in 2003. Now it is being sold as a video, giving an audience outside the arthouse circuit a chance to see it. Most is a story about a father and his son. It’s a story about sacrifice and redemption. But, ultimately, Most (“bridge” in Czech) is a story about love and life. Shot entirely on location in the Czech Republic and Poland, it is a superb short film that absorbs you and leads you on a heart-wrenching journey in just under 33 minutes.
Most is the story of an ordinary man forced to make an extraordinary decision.
Produced, written and directed by Christian film-makers Bobby Garabedian and William Zabka (of Karate Kid fame) it was nominated for Best Live Action Short Film in 2003. It debuted at the prestigious Sundance Festival that same year, and went on to win top honours at the Heartland Film Festival, Maui, Palm Springs and other international competitions.
The story deals with a man (Vladimir Javorsky) who operates a railway drawbridge in Eastern Europe. He is a single father and his life revolves around his exceedingly perceptive young son (Lada Ondrej). The movie is told through the eyes of the boy and his observations of life in an Eastern European city. As he and his father wander through the town, he astutely monitors the interaction between ordinary human beings… lovers quarrelling or saying goodbye at the train station. He pays particular attention to a young woman (Linda Rybová ) who seems deeply troubled by life.
Wanting to spend more time together, Lada convinces his father to take him to the drawbridge one afternoon. We see the young boy playing near a stream, as his father enters the drawbridge to work. Moments later, we notice a train approaching. Lada tries to warn his father but cannot be heard. He tries to throw the switch manually, but accidentally tumbles into the drawbridge wheel. Within a matter of seconds, the father is faced with a heart-wrenching dilemma. Does he spare the life of his own flesh and blood or the lives of hundreds he has never met?
In the moments before the father makes his decision, we see the various townspeople we met at the beginning of the movie riding on the train. Among them is the troubled young woman Lada so closely and endearingly observed. She is in the bathroom contemplating whether or not she should take another hit of heroin. At that moment, she stares out the window and sees the vacillating and despairing look on the young father’s face.
To disclose what happens next would be to deprive the viewer of the film’s greatest power. It shifts from an ethereal opening to a dramatic ending that charges the events that have gone before with even greater emotional significance.
It is impossible to miss the spiritually strong connection between father and son. Most opens with Lada explaining the meaning of the North Star to his father. As the film progresses, we see the connection grow and the viewer is blown away by how perceptive and morally mature Lada is. At the same time, his need for fatherly affection is endearing and reminds anyone, regardless of age, how vital the bond between a father and son is, especially in the formative years.
I particularly loved how the life of each character is linked to the others. Most is very much a story of discovery: discovery of one’s own purpose in life and discovery of the indispensable role each human being has in this world. While most people go about their lives unaware of their surroundings and indifferent to others, Lada instantaneously connects with individuals.
Most is chock full of symbolism from sin and sacrifice to revelation and redemption. During the course of the movie, the viewer sees the sinfulness plaguing the various train passengers while the ending highlights atonement, new life and hope.
A simple but profound story, Most will touch your heart. The cinematography is breathtaking, the music is beautiful and the message is poignant. It is a reflective and educational parable about the importance of family, love, hope and renewal. This Father’s Day, share it with your family. You can order it by going to the Most website.
Guiomar Barbi lives in Washington DC. From 2001-2003, she lived in Rome where she worked at the US Embassy to the Holy See.