The Return, directed by Andrei Zvygiantsev, is a film that is ultimately about the evolving relationship between two brothers who had to grow up without a father. In the beginning of this film the brothers got in petty fights and didn’t take care of each other. The also had a hard time being independent and acting maturely. By the end of the film, the boys had learned that if they work together they are capable of surviving on their own and getting things done. They realize that they don’t need their father to be good men.
They grew up without their father and may never see him again so it was an important thing for them to learn that they can become men despite not having a father to help them. The key scene of this film was the scene where the father falls off the tower and dies. The father had pushed the boys to a point where they were finally ready to be brave and stick up for themselves, like men. They stopped fighting and realized that they could do so much more if they worked together. After the father died, Andrei even took on almost a fatherly role with Ivan, taking charge saying that they were going to bring back their father with their little hands.
He also used his skills he acquired on the trip to think quickly to cut some branches to make dragging their fathers body a little bit easier. The boys finally grow up and stop fighting like children and take the first step in the direction of becoming men, which is arguably what their father was trying to teach them throughout the whole film. One shot that displayed this change brought on by the father, specifically in Ivan, when Ivan was climbing the third tower and there was a cut to a shot of his shaking hands.
This showed that Ivan was finally facing his fear because the first time he climbed he tower he balled up and couldn’t move out of fear, the second time he didn’t even climb the tower, but now he was still afraid but was going to continue despite his fear. He even had the guts to threaten to jump off of this tower even though there wasn’t water underneath. Ivan had hit a wall emotionally and was done being afraid. The cut of lvan’s shaking hands linked this scene back to the other two tower scenes and the juxtaposition between them displayed the change in Ivan. Another element in this scene is the use of very eerie music.
There is little to no music in the rest of this film, but there is very dark, eerie music under laying this scene. This tells the viewer that this moment is important as well as sets the tone for the father’s death. It allows the viewer to really feel the impact that it had on the boys. Right when the father hits the ground and dies, the music stops and the boys have to face reality. This shows how the boys had to wake up and heal from not having a father growing up. In class, professor Snapko shared his theory that the boys’ father wasn’t to be taken literally, he was a symbolic element used to create a change in the brothers’ relationship.
I completely agree with this. I think this is relevant in this key scene because it allows the viewer to see how the boys needed to reimagine their father’s death in order to finally move on from it and use it to bring them together as brothers. As mentioned before, the music stops when the father hits the ground, which symbolizes the boys finally waking up and realizing that their father is never coming back and they need to continue with their lives. This theory of the father being a symbolic device to bring the boys together also helps to bring meaning to the title of the film, The Return.
One reason it could be titled this is because the father returns to where he came from. The first shot of the father in this film was him asleep in a bed of dark blue sheets. The very last shot of the father was almost identical as his body was sinking into the water in the exact same position and shot. The first scene of the film was a shot underwater of an old sunken boat. The same mus 2 OF 5 the opening of the film as at the end when the father’s body is sinking into the water. Also, the box that the father digs up is similar to the one in the beginning of the film where Ivan ran to find all of his physical memories of his father.
The father digging up the box could be symbolic of the boys digging up their memories of their father and trying to heal from losing him. All of these things suggest that the father is returning to where he came from, the water. It suggests that the father has been dead this whole time; that he was really just there to foster the change in the boys’ relationship. Another reason that it could be titled The Return is if it is taken in a more literal sense, the father returns to the boys’ lives. They haven’t seen him since they were young children so for him to return would be a huge deal to them.
When he did return, he treated them horribly and they probably feel as though they would have rather not met him. In the more literal sense, the return is the father returning to his sons to teach them a lesson. In the symbolic sense, the father is returning to their lives momentarily to allow them to heal and move on, as well as teach them to be men. I think that they symbolic meaning is more likely to be the intent, as displayed by the shots mentioned earlier, but also by the photographs used at the end of the film. At the end of the film there are a bunch of black and white still images of the boys on their trip.
The father is not present in any of these photos. Even before the stills at the end of the film, there is a photo seen in the car before they leave on their journey home. Ivan pulls down the sun shade and a photo falls out of the two boys when they were young with their mother. Almost the same photo was shown earlier in the film, but the father was included in that one. This could be to suggest to the viewer that the father wasn’t really there. Then at the end there is the black and white photos. They are all pictures taken of the boys while on their trip, but it looks like a completely different trip than the one just seen in the movie.
In the photos, the boys look to be very happy and look like they had a fun camping trip. The trip we saw was not like that, we saw them being miserable as their father was constantly being mean to them to teach them lessons. It also is peculiar that there are no pictures of their fathers. Since they boys have not spent any time with their father for basically their whole lives it would make sense that they would take a lot of photos of him to remember this great moment, but they didn’t take one photo of him. Both of these ideas suggest that the father was never actually present on this trip.
It seems as though the boys actually took this camping trip on their own and had a great time together. This could mean that the film was just an imagination of what it would have been like to have their father return to their lives for this trip. The boys never got to be taught these lessons by their father so it would make sense that they would imagine what it would have been like to have him there. This almost gave them closure in a way because they realized that they would end up on their own anyway and they needed to learn to work together and be good brothers.
They realized that their father is never coming back and they will have to navigate the world without ever knowing what he would have been like or what he would have taught them. The Return is about two brothers learning to grow up without the influence of their father there to guide them into being young men. When the father metaphorically dies, the boys are able to finally move with their life without a father. They work toge ether to be more independent and start to act like young men instead of children. The filmmaker used sound and symbolic cuts to show a change in the boys.
The title “The Return” is because it the father symbolically comes back into the boys lives but then returns to where he came from, the water. The idea that the father was symbolic is brought up by his lack of presence in the photos at the end of the film. At that point the viewer can look back and see that there were many elements that support this, such as his first and last shot being the same image of him drifting away into the water, the first scene of the film is underwater and the same music is used then s when the fathers body is sinking back into the water, and the similarity between the box the father dug up and the box Ivan ran to at the beginning of the film to find the book with memories of his father. Ultimately, this film was about Ivan and Andrei learning to become men without their father there to teach them. They finally got some closure as to whether their father had abandoned them and could stop dreaming of him ever coming back. The brothers learned to face reality and work together to get things done.