SON OF MAN is a 13-minute period piece that was inspired by a parable titled, “The Grand Inquisitor”, from 19th Century Russian novelist, Fyodor Dostoevsky’s book, “The Brothers Karamazov.” Set in 1940’s Nazi-controlled Croatia, SON OF MAN focuses on a debate over humanity between a Catholic-Nazi General, known as The Fascist (Aleksei Diakow), and a man believed to be Jesus Christ, known as The Medic (Steven Molony).
In a day and age where period pieces are few and far between at the box office, this film provides history buffs with an alternative to the action flicks that dominate mainstream cinema today. The film starts by introducing us to The Medic, a guy who is seen as some sort of prophet sent to help lead a resistance movement against the Nazis. The Medic finds himself sitting in front of The Fascist having a philosophical debate about Christ, free will, and what is the moral and right thing to do when it comes to humanity; all of which the Nazis stood on the “anti” side of.
SON OF MAN made me think. I respect the fact that Janek Ambros takes on such tough subject matter; addressing issues that every human being will, at some point, have to think about. I could also appreciate the writer/director’s passion for history, and putting a different spin on Dostoevsky’s novel; which was written long before Hitler’s reign of terror in Word War 2 Europe.
On the other hand, my big gripe with this short is that while the story is clever, it sort of drags along because of the actors’ interpretation of what a WW2 fascist dictatorship was like. From historic record, we know that Nazis were not the calmest of people, especially when they believed that their authority was being undermined. So, I felt that Aleksei Diakow’s interpretation of The Fascist was a bit misaligned and didn’t quite hit the mark. While Steven Molony held his position, the exchange between the two characters fell a little flat.
Again, I always feel the need to be clear and state that my views/opinions are that of someone who has managed the successful careers of TV and major motion picture lead actors so, I understand the craft of acting and how important it is for actors to study the characters they portray. In this case, I wish the actors had done a bit more homework.
Nevertheless, when you understand that short films are oftentimes very limited on what they can and can’t do financially, you take a less critical stance on the overall production. I feel that Janek Ambros and his crew did the best they could with what they had to work with, and I’m sure that Janek’s vision for SON OF MAN was a whole lot bigger than what we see here. I know because I’ve managed short film directors before and I’m fully aware of the parameters that talented filmmakers like Janek Ambros have to work within in order to successfully bring their cinematic visions to the viewing public. I would recommend any fan of historical pieces to watch, SON OF MAN.