Aleksandr Sokurov – Skorbnoye beschuvstviye aka Anaesthesia Psychica Dolorosa aka Mournful Unconcern (1987)
Mournful Unconcern (Russian: Скорбное бесчувствие, translit. Skorbnoye beschuvstviye) is the third produced film by Alexander Sokurov, completed in 1983, but the fourth released one, as it was banned by Soviet authorities until perestroika in 1987. The film, set during World War I, is inspired by Bernard Shaw’s play Heartbreak House. Professional actors (Zamansky, Osipenko, Sokolova and others) were used alongside amateur actors, like in most early Sokurov films, and many of the trademarks of his cinematographic style were already apparent.
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Roger Ebert wrote:
Every review of “Russian Ark” begins by discussing its method. The movie consists of one unbroken shot lasting the entire length of the film, as a camera glides through the Hermitage, the repository of Russian art and history in St. Petersburg. The cinematographer Tillman Buttner, using a Steadicam and high-def digital technology, joined with some 2,000 actors in an tight-wire act in which every mark and cue had to be hit without fail; there were two broken takes before the third time was the charm.
The subject of the film, which is written, directed and (in a sense) hosted by Alexander Sokurov, is no less than three centuries of Russian history. The camera doesn’t merely take us on a guided tour of the art on the walls and in the corridors, but witnesses many visitors who came to the Hermitage over the years. Apart from anything else, this is one of the best-sustained ideas I have ever seen on the screen. Sokurov reportedly rehearsed his all-important camera move again and again with the cinematographer, the actors and the invisible sound and lighting technicians, knowing that the Hermitage would be given to him for only one precious day. Read More »
Loosely based on a science fiction story by the Strugatsky brothers. The film tells the story about a young scientist who travels to a poor provincial town in Central Asia to do research on the Russian Orthodox church. Mysterious forces, unbearable heat, strange people, a conversation with a dead friend and aliens disturb his research. Read More »
Following up on his shaded character study of Adolf Hitler in Moloch, acclaimed filmmaker Alexander Sokurov directs this companion piece — the second in a planned trilogy — based on the waning days of the life of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin. Set in 1923 in the newly created U.S.S.R., state founder Lenin (Leonid Mozgovoy) — though he is never mentioned by name — is convalescing from a stroke at age 51 in his dacha. Surrounded by watchful guards, a live-in doctor, his wife, and his sister, this formerly titanic figure lives as a virtual prisoner after the deterioration of his health. Unable to make contact with the outside world — newspapers are forcibly removed and the phone lines cut — Lenin spends much of his time puttering around in the garden or eating with his loyal wife. One day, Stalin (Sergei Razhuk) pays him a visit, even though Lenin isn’t quite sure who the future tyrant is. He presents the sick man a walking stick, mentioning that he wanted it to be engraved but Trotsky vetoed the idea. After the visit, Lenin becomes upset that he is living in luxury while his countrymen are starving. This film was screened in competition at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival. ~ Jonathan Crow, All Movie Guide Read More »
The film depicts the instincts and schemes of Faust, and the world that gives rise to his ideas.The film is the final part in a series of films where Alexander Sokurov explores the corrupting effects of power. The previous installments are three biographical dramas: about Adolf Hitler in Moloch from 1999, Vladimir Lenin in Taurus from 2001, and the Japanese emperor Hirohito in The Sun from 2005. Read More »