Clueless soldiers engage in conflict and culture shock in “Time of the Comet,” a costumer by Albanian director Fatmir Koci that marries the absurdity of war to the utter absurdity that was once Albania.
Upon learning that Albania is no longer under Ottoman rule, Shestan (Blerim Destani), armed with an outdated map (national boundaries change weekly), ventures forth with his men to seek out and defend the newly named German king of Albania. The ragtag band crosses countless internal divisions, each claimed as a protectorate of some foreign power. In one of the film s best sight gags, the group comes across a crowded signpost bearing arrows pointing to half the nations of Europe.
The Albania traversed by Shestan displays a tolerant multiculturalism that finds its own crackpot alternatives to war. Shestan’s run-in with a bunch of Macedonians results in a musical showdown in which the folk melodies native to both sides shoot back and forth with different arrangements and instrumentations.
In contrast to Godard’s brutish “Les Carabiniers,” Koci’s protagonists manage both heroism and cluelessness, their saga both romantic and absurd. Koci’s gorgeous widescreen tapestry( shot by the late Irish cameraman Donal Gilligan) – complete with men in swashbuckling folk regalia or brass-buttoned European uniforms, set against majestic mountainside backdrops – grants full historical sweep to the idiotic events. After all, World War I is just around the corner.
Ronnie Scheib, Variety
Fatmir Kochi will attend the screening