Like a sad, おとぎ話やたとえ話の貪欲な王, the Georgian billionaire and former prime minister Bidzina Ivanishvili set out, 6年前, to buy and uproot hundreds of magnificent mature trees and transport them at colossal expense and difficulty across Georgia to be transplanted in his own huge private garden. It sometimes involves taking a tree by water, along the Black Sea coast – a truly surreal image.
Salomé Jashi’s fascinating and deadpan film shows, in a series of tableau-type shots, the effect that these purchases are having up and down the land. Local workers squabble among themselves at the dangerous, strenuous, but nonetheless lucrative job of digging them up. The landowners and communities brood on the sizeable sums of money they are getting paid and Ivanishvili’s promises that roads will also be built. But at the moment of truth, they are desolate when the Faustian bargain must be settled and the huge, ugly haulage trucks come to take their trees away in giant “pots” of earth, as if part of their natural soul is being confiscated. (Surely at least some of these trees will have died en route, although this is not revealed.)
Whole villages are clearly in the throes of emotions they cannot understand: angry, 動揺, yet also weirdly elated at the undoubtedly extraordinary spectacle that they have facilitated – a Birnam Wood coming to Ivanishvili’s exclusive Dunsinane. Transporting these trees is a Fitzcarraldo-type operation: a folie de grandeur of staggering proportions. そして最後に, far from the remote villages from which the trees have been abducted, sometimes in darkness (perhaps to avoid mass protests from those suffering seller’s remorse) we see the strange private garden that the oligarch has built, with its trees and manicured lawns. The whole country is the real garden which he has attempted to subdue, reducing it to the tamed sterility of private property.