BIGORSKA STORY – Commentary on the film “1000 Years a Witness of Light” by Ilija Iko Karov

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Lidija Hristova – Graduate Professor of Philosophy and Filmologist Associate for Spiritual Cultural Heritage

Note: We use google translate to translate this text from Macedonian to English

To tell a story with the help of the seventh art about something so sublime, extensive, secret, hidden and mystical, like the spiritual life of a monastic community – is a very big thing! Making a film and retelling the thousand-year-old “Bigorska Story” in brief is an extremely big job. It is a big thing to just try to do it, and how much bigger is it when that work is successful?!

The documentary “1000 years – Witness to the Light”, directed by Ilija Iko Karov is just such a great work. Not only that, but his film testifies to something even more important: a thousand years of being a true Witness of Light.

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The Bigorski monastic community has many things to point out, praise and show, but for the course of the story the author – screenwriter and director – has chosen exactly the narrative that strikes the essence and meaning, exactly in its source.

“Here the language of eternity is spoken,” the narrator tells us, and visually draws us into an aesthetic play of beautiful scenes, trying to capture our elusive essence, relying on his instinct or more precisely on intuition, to sense what we know that exists, no we can not grasp and express.

Through the historical introduction and detailed information from the deep historical treasury, as well as the importance of the monastery in creating a truly spiritual atmosphere, with real influences in its environment and much wider, we learn about the roots of this solid foundation that is laid for further creation of people who are associated with this holy monastery. The creation of the wonderful traditions and traditions that we have to this day, as proof of the sanctity of our region, the origin of the saints kept in the monastery – holy relics, construction, the activity of the monastery and its role in the rebirth of Macedonia.

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“Then I felt my ancestors in front of me” – is the line that left a terrible impression on me. Introduction to monastic life, through the statements of monks and nuns, while subtly travelling through their truths is an important segment, but what is most important is that the film reveals the central character of its story – the Elder (Bishop Parthenius), and through but the central cause and struggle of the community – the living God Jesus Christ. As the saying goes: “The elder is the image, likeness and icon of Christ in the fraternity, Christ himself among the brethren.”

At the same time, the historical framework and the course of the story introduce us to the beginnings and briefly to most of those “old men” through whom this wonderful place created and continued its story, introducing us to the essential meaning of the secrets of monastic life in their sacramental sense., that meaning which speaks of the acquisition of heavenly bliss, the undressing of the old man, the crucifixion of passions, the love of pain, and the freedom of Christ.

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“Monasticism is the angelic way of life on earth,” the narrator continues, and through a cyclical depiction of the four seasons, the director takes us directly into the dynamic theological life of the monastery’s spiritual atmosphere. In other words, the film invites people to take a deeper look at authentic Orthodox Christianity.

The film provides answers to the most basic questions for every curious spirit who wants to peek into that mystical and mysterious life of those people we have long seen in the frescoes and icons – the blacksmiths, who were the basis of every beautiful and important work on which our civilization is based.. Exactly, as the title says, they are witnesses of eternal Light. The film functions as a kind of manual for the Christian and monastic life. On the screen, we see a new level of aesthetics and fulfilled living.

The film fills the viewer with enormous visual wealth. The camera constantly travels through the monastery atmosphere and manages to capture the beauties of both the interior and the exterior of the monastery Family, with an abundance of general plans necessary for the coverage of this huge building.

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At the same time, this film takes a look at our spirituality and the deep historical story, which we understand has been revived and the existence of this film, as it is, testifies to that. The resurrection – spring, the new beginning, proves that we too can rejoice spiritually, in these times of ours, and forget about cynicism and doubt.

“Receive freely, give freely!”, Are the words of the Lord Christ uttered at the moment when He sends the Apostles to proclaim the good news of the word of salvation.

So, we were honoured to receive and be part of the Witness of the Thousand Years Masterpiece.