Russian Cinema

Oriental Elegy, 1996

Visually impressionistic, atmospherically dense, and narratively opaque, Oriental Elegy is the surreal journey of a displaced spirit (Aleksandr Sokurov) as he wanders in the interminable darkness through the temporal landscape of a quaint and isolated feudal-era fishing village. Guided by a series of faintly illuminated rooms, the wandering spirit comes upon ancient souls who take… read more »

The Second Circle, 1990

A solitary figure trudges through the inclement weather of a vast, remote Siberian wilderness. An unyielding gust of wind brings the young man (Pyotr Aleksandrov) to his knees as he attempts to avert the caustic, sustained force of the snowstorm, momentarily obscuring him from view, erased from the harsh and desolate landscape. The stark, monochromatic… read more »

Petersburg Elegy, 1989

Ostensibly a documentary on the art, passion, and privileged life of famed Russian actor and singer Fyodor Chaliapin who emigrated to Europe after the dissolution of the Russian monarchy, and whose surviving family embarked on a long-awaited homecoming after a 60 year absence to their home in glasnost-era, market economy Russia, Petersburg Elegy is a… read more »

Sonata for Hitler, 1989

Sonata for Hitler is a curious and indelible montage of dissociative images that intercut historical footage of wartime Germany and the Soviet Union: a somber Adolf Hitler habitually wringing his hands; blind or unfocused, distracted factory workers mechanically assembling military arsenal; fervored crowds erupting into spontaneous salute as an expression of national solidarity. Composed of… read more »

Mariya, 1988

Aleksandr Sokurov creates a visually poetic, elegant, and unforgettable synthesis of art and life in Mariya. The lush and textural initial sequence, shot using color film, presents the austere life of the titular Mariya – a robust, genial, and hard-working middle-aged collective farmer with an engaging smile – during an arduous flax harvest season in… read more »

Moscow Elegy, 1988

More allusive and evocative than biographical in content, Moscow Elegy is Aleksandr Sokurov’s tribute documentary to Russian filmmaker, friend, and mentor, Andrei Tarkovsky that concentrates on the iconic filmmaker’s final years in Western Europe. Incorporating thematically representative scenes from Tarkovsky’s last two, deeply spiritual, non-Russian films, Nostalghia and The Sacrifice, as well as behind the… read more »

Evening Sacrifice, 1987

Evening Sacrifice is tonally composed of two indelibly entrancing and hypnotically fluid images: a color sequence that captures the methodical precision of a military regiment deploying fireworks over the Neva River to the melancholic serenade of a nostalgic, old-fashioned ballad, that transitions to a sepia-toned footage of a crowd indiscriminately dispersing into the street amidst… read more »

Dmitri Shostakovich: Viola Sonata, 1986

Co-directed by Aleksandr Sokurov and Semen Aranovich, Dmitri Shostakovich: Viola Sonata is an emotionally lucid, understated, textural, and reverent biography of the highly influential, Soviet-era composer and pianist, Dmitri Dmitrievich Shostakovich. Using allusive, recurring imagery of a photograph of a young, physically fragile Shostakovich resting on his mother’s lap and a delirious shot of an… read more »

Solaris, 1972

Ground control has been receiving strange transmissions from the three remaining cosmonauts aboard the Solaris space station: Dr. Snouth (Yuri Yarvet), Dr. Sartorius (Anatoli Solonitsyn), and Dr. Gibarian (Sos Sarkisyan). The Solaris program is at a crossroads, and psychologist Dr. Kris Kelvin (Donatas Banionis) has been assigned to visit the crew, report on their mental… read more »

Mirror, 1975

Mirror is Andrei Tarkovsky’s visually transcendent, artistically revelatory autobiographical film on lost innocence and emotional abandonment. Presented as a languidly paced, achronological cinematic montage of modern day life, personal memories, historical news footage, and dreams, Mirror is an introspective journey through the course of human existence, hope and despair, success and frailty: a television broadcast… read more »

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