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Brearley, M. (2009). Behind the sun: From Blind Vengeance to Freedom. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 90(1):135-143.

(2009). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 90(1):135-143

Film Essay

Behind the sun: From Blind Vengeance to Freedom

Michael Brearley

Behind the Sun - originally entitled Abril Despedacado in Portuguese, literally ‘Torn Apart April’ - was made in 2001, and released in UK in 2002, by Walter Salles, the director of Central Station, and, more recently, of The Motorcycle Diaries. It is taken from the novel Broken April, written in 1978 by Albanian novelist, Ismael Kadare (1978).

The novel, set in the mountainous part of Albania, covers a month-long period between March and April, the latter month broken - hence the title - by the date of the end of a truce for Gjorg, a man caught up, like his Brazilian counterpart in the film, Tonho, in a blood feud. It had been his duty to kill the member of the opposed family who had killed his relative. Honour and duty require that each murder be avenged by an appointed male member of the newly aggrieved family. Now Gjorg awaits his turn as victim. There are strict rules for the correct observance of these killings, and for the formalities and practices surrounding them, embodied in a code of customary law called the Kanun, with its own court of experts and judges. For Gjorg's family, the Berishas, the dispute had started 70 years before, as a result of the murder of a guest of the Berisha family by a member of the Kryequqe family, thus putting the two families in perpetual conflict. It had already claimed 44 lives, 22 per family. The novel tells the story of Gjorg's truce and its outcome. This theme is interwoven with a second one, which involves the journey of a recently married couple from the city, who arrive in the mountains for their honeymoon on a kind of anthropological tour of these strange customs, their paths occasionally crossing those of the condemned man.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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