A Rising Fury is a war documentary unlike any other that exists. Directors/producers Ruslan Batytskyi and Lesya Kalynska (who wrote the film) intimately capture the ebbs and flows of one relationship as revolution, protests, and war ravage the country. And which country is that specifically? Ukraine.
Pavlo and Svitlana met in 2014 during the Maidan Revolution (aka Revolution of Dignity). Sparks instantly fly, and soon they have swept each other off their feet. But Russia’s annexation of Crimea, as well as the ongoing civil unrest, causes Pavlo to enlist in the military as he loves his homeland and wishes to fight for it. As the years go on, and Putin begins his unjust and unprovoked (and thoroughly ill-conceived) war against Ukraine in 2022, Pavlo and Svitlana’s relationship is put into sharp relief. Can their love overcome everything, even the trauma of war and the changing tides of history altering who they are?
Over the nearly ten-year creation of A Rising Fury, the filmmakers were granted unparalleled access to Pavlo and Svitlana’s life. Or, at the very least, Batytskyi and Kalynska are so skilled that they make it appear that is the case. The camera is as much a fly on the wall as it is a character interviewing friends, family, and fellow soldiers. There is a tender moment where the couple shares an intimate discussion in bed that cements their deep feelings for each other. Then war breaks out, and battles rage all around them. This sends Pavlo and Svitlana to their wit’s end, as there’s no time to slow down and figure anything out. The juxtaposition of these two sides of their personalities is fascinating and offers some profound ruminations on human nature.
“…[with] war against Ukraine in 2022, Pavlo and Svitlana’s relationship is put into sharp relief.”
Equally engaging is the political and civil history that is well-covered here. The groundwork and aftermath of the Revolution of Dignity is a great example of how people can facilitate change. Spurred on by the then-president’s decision to leave Ukraine’s EU Association Agreement to join Putin’s version, the revolution came because the head of the country told law enforcement to shoot all protestors. That president, Viktor Yanukovych, fled to Russia after being ousted. This failure, as well as the successes in Crimea, are inciting factors for Putin showing his a*s and invading Ukraine in 2022. The way Batytskyi and Kalynska relay this information through the eyes of the loving subjects is informative but never dry.
However, it’s the finale that truly makes A Rising Fury a masterclass of documentary filmmaking. The last 20 minutes, give or take, is captivating, heartbreaking, sweet, happy, frustrating, and absolutely brilliant on every level. Of course, no spoilers, but the way the filmmakers reveal what happens to who is the perfect merging of editing, cinematography, music, and damn good storytelling.
A Rising Fury is one of the best movies of the year. It is probably the most noteworthy documentary in quite a long time. Ruslan Batytskyi and Lesya Kalynska have made something intimate yet broad in scope, heartwarming but frustrating, educational and tense at the same time, funny as well as shocking. In every conceivable way, this is a perfect film.
For more information, visit the official site of A Rising Fury.
"…a perfect film."