Sokurov shows the official manifestation and fireworks on the 1st of May, one of the ritual celebrations of Soviet times, as a gathering of tired participants of a mass scene falling into pieces without the director’s orders and without any aims. Outbursts of joy without reason, mixed here and there with equally unmotivated signs of anxiety are given in brief sketches of a restless and pitiful crowd. A part instead of the whole, individual instead of common, a symbol growing up from details are the postulates of Eisenstein’s representation of the “people’s masses,” both the chorus and the protagonist of the Soviet official culture. Sokurov revises these postulates in the context of our time when the chorus has gone out of action, both in the aesthetic and in the social sense, and the protagonist is absent. However, both chorus and soloist are introduced into the picture of the festivity by the hand of the author: Sokurov puts a church canticle into the soundtrack of the film. It is an evening Orthodox prayer of repentance: “let my prayer be like incense before Thou, like my hands uplifted, an evening sacrifice.” Read More »
Set to the music of Bach and Penderecki, Sonata for Hitler weaves together a bank of images from German and Soviet archive footage, drawing out a psychological dimension from the historical landscape at the end of World War II.
Alexander Sokurov’s Sonata for Hitler was banned by the Soviet authorities in his home country of Russia and was not released until a decade after it was completed. Much of his early work, in fact, was considered ‘anti-communist’ and remained unseen for years. It was not until 1996 that he produced his first internationally acclaimed feature, Mother and Son.
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– Sokurov directed and filmed Mozart’s Requiem for the Rossica Choir in the wonderful hall of the St. Petersburg Philharmonic. Preceded by his student film, inspired by La Traviata.
The first night of a performance of Mozart’s Requiem staged by Alexander Sokurov, with the Rossica choir from St. Petersburg, led by Valentina Kopylova-Pantchenko, took place in the small hall of the St. Petersburg Philharmonic at the end of the winter of 2003. The choir holds a special place in this presentation of the Requiem – it is the main actor and plays the main role. The director was looking to give a new resonance to classical music in both an aesthetic as well as a musical context. On stage, the action takes place in a clear, simple, dynamic and beautiful way, within the space of a magnificent hall. The performance was a surprising revelation even for music-lovers. Read More »
Plot (source IMDB): In the 20’s an enthusiast radio amateur, Fyodor Lbov, experiments one of the first short-waves radio in the city of Gorky. Read More »
A retelling of Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary as a surreal story of universal suffering, the film emphasizes the heroine’s internal transformation as she slowly loses her grip on reality. Her erotic fascination with rich clothing and her almost childish desire to seduce and to be lost in passion is brilliantly contrasted with the small-town life that leaves Emma tragically isolated in her passionate attempt to bridge the gap between spirituality and sensuality. Read More »
The lengthy siege of Leningrad during World War II cost a million civilian lives. In Alexander Sokurov’s documentary, various people – actors, journalists, students, soldiers – read eyewitness accounts about this ‘historic and cultural disaster’, to use Sokurovr’s words. Read More »
Semyon Aranovich & Aleksandr Sokurov – Altovaya sonata. Dmitriy Shostakovich aka Sonata for viola (1981)
A deeply moving and reverent biopic of Soviet composer and pianist Dmitri Shostakovich. It’s co-directed by Aleksandr Sokurov (“The Russian Ark”) and veteran filmmaker Semyon Aranovich. Shostakovich was born in St. Petersburg in 1906 and died in Moscow in 1975. The understated black-and-white biopic follows Shostakovich as a frail young man as seen through photographs and traces his life through personal documents, recorded appearances, and concert performances of his work set against archival footage of daily life in the Soviet Union. It shows him during his glory days of early critical acclaim until his disfavor under Stalin because of his political views and struggle for creative freedom. He was honored in 1958, five years after Stalin’s death, by his country, as he was awarded the second Order of Lenin after graciously not accepting it a year earlier in order for the first Order of Lenin to be posthumously awarded to Sergei Prokofiev. He was recognized for his genius in composing the 7th Symphony during the Second World War, which was an uplifting reminder of the war. It opens with the scene set in a besieged Leningrad. Shostakovich’s dream was to bring his music to the masses and give his people an appreciation for their rich culture. The title comes about because Shostakovich’s “Sonata for Violin” was the only work he composed that he never heard performed. The film, made in 1981, was discovered after it was buried to hide it from the KGB, who at an earlier date banned it.
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