Aleksandr Sokurov

Alexandra, 2007

One of my favorite films from this year’s festival is Aleksandr Sokurov’s Alexandra, a spare, poetic, and understatedly affirming elegy on the spiritual and moral consequences of a corrosive, interminable war. At the heart and soul of the film is the stubborn and indomitable babushka, Alexandra, played by the famed Russian soprano and sprightly octogenarian… read more »

The Sun, 2005

Aleksandr Sokurov has always seemed to be particularly in his element with his dense and amorphous expositions of integrated, Eastern spirituality (A Humble Life, Dolce) and the commutation of collective history (Oriental Elegy, Russian Ark, so it comes as no suprise that the third installment of his historical tetralogy, The Sun – a film that… read more »

Russian Ark, 2002

Aleksandr Sokurov’s Russian Ark was next, and it is quite a spellbinding, visually brilliant film, as Sokurov transports us through episodes of Russian history through the confines of The Hermitage Museum in one long unbroken shot (in the same experimental vein as Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope) that seems to create a seeming perpetuity that underscores a… read more »

Elegy of a Voyage, 2001

An obscured, unnamed narrator journeys across morphing, ethereal landscapes of frenetic and impersonal European cities before seeking refuge from the inclement weather at a desolate, neglected museum in an unidentified European town. Wandering through the austere and soulless rooms, the narrator’s silhouette melancholically hovers over paintings like a brooding, unreconciled ghost, organically reflecting in a… read more »

Dolce, 2000

Dolce opens to a clinical biographical overview of writer and poet Toshio Shimao (1917-1986) as the narrator (Aleksandr Sokurov) thumbs through a family photo album, describing Shimao’s privileged life as the heir of an affluent merchant family, before enlisting in the Japanese military as a kamikaze pilot during the Pacific War. Stationed on a remote… read more »

Mother and Son, 1997

Mother and Son opens with a languorously sublime image of a man and a woman; their physical forms distorted through an anamorphic lens. A son (Alexei Anashinov) attends to his terminally ill mother (Gudrun Geyer) at a remote house in the Russian countryside. He whispers to her, combs her hair, talks her through an asphyxiating… read more »

A Humble Life, 1997

A Humble Life is a languidly paced and serenely patient chronicle of the austere and simple, yet noble life of an elderly woman (later identified in the end credits as Umeno Mathuyoshi from the village of Aska in the Nara prefecture) living a solitary, Zen-like existence in the mountains. Aleksandr Sokurov’s static camera reverently lingers… read more »

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 »