The Rise & Fall Of Comrade Zylo
“The Rise & Fall Of Comrade Zylo” is a masterful genre comedy reflecting the dark side of our common history in the East. The camera is permanently on the move and the visual style is somewhere between Film Noir and Nouvelle Vague, producing a highly entertaining film that has been adapted for the screen with brilliant dark humour by director Fatmir Koçi and co-sreenwriter Mike Downey on the basis of a book by Dritëro Agolli.
Comrade Zylo, the head of Albania’s top censorship institution in the 1970s, is a tyrannical bureaucrat. He orders the talented writer Demka to compose an ideological speech. Demka sees that he has become a slave of a Machiavellian propaganda master. But that’s not his deepest problem: Demka realises that he is falling in love with Zylo’s wife, Adila.
This dark comedy definitely holds the same level as comic masterpieces like the brilliant Ernst Lubitsch's “To Be or Not to Be” (1942), Billy Wilder’s “One, Two, Three” (1961), Roberto Benigni’s “La vita è bella” (1997) and films about our recent Eastern past like Cristian Mungiu’s “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days” (2007) or Jasmila Zbanic’s “Quo vadis, Aida?” (2020).
But since no critic can describe the intention better than the author, here is what Fatmir himself has said: “Albania in the 1970s. Dictatorship’s brutal impact on society. Destiny of a Man facing the State and its machinery of Propaganda – Zylo, a victim of ideological nonsense. Our recent history, the reality of Albanians and Eastern Europe. I believe the film strongly echoes to the contemporary world as a sharp and sarcastic view of that era.”
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