Aleksandr Sokurov

Aleksandr Sokurov – Francofonia (2015)

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“Francofonia,” a powerful cinematic essay on how art and war are irrevocably intertwined, has an ideal canvas and time peg for its philosophical musings: the Louvre Museum during the Nazi occupation of France.
In an elegiac documentary designed to raise questions more than answer them, director Alexander Sokurov has plenty of rueful observations about how iconic artworks make for excellent war trophies, because art embodies the heart and soul of a vanquished culture. We see the irony of the Germans seeking to haul away the Louvre treasures that the French themselves plundered from other nations. Read More »

Aleksandr Sokurov – Spasi i sokhrani aka Save and Protect aka Madame Bovary [Long cut] (1989)

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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 »

Aleksandr Sokurov – Sovetskaya elegiya aka Soviet Elegy (1990)

In “The Soviet Elegy” the long train of photos of the Soviet leaders, dead or alive, stops at the portrait of Yeltsin. At the time of shooting Yeltsin had fallen down from the assembly of the Communist Party deities, and participated in the earthly life through connections of different kinds. Read More »

Aleksandr Sokurov – Moskovskaya elegiya aka Moscow Elegy (1987)

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Originally produced to mark the 50th birthday of Andrei Tarkovsky (Solaris, Stalker), Moscow Elegy is a stunning documentary and subjective portrait of the legendary filmmaker by Alexander Sokurov, director of Russian Ark and Tarkovsky’s spiritual heir. Read More »

Aleksandr Sokurov – Dolce… (2000)

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Dolce opens to a clinical biographical overview of writer and poet Toshio Shimao Dolce(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 southern island while awaiting orders to be deployed for his suicide mission, Shimao falls in love with a local young woman from a prominent samurai family named Miho and, in a fortuitous twist of fate, is ordered to abandon his campaign as Japan moves closer towards conceding defeat. Toshio and Miho adjust to postwar life by settling in Kobe and starting a family-run business of publishing Shimao’s literary work. Read More »

Aleksandr Sokurov – Robert. Schastlivaya zhizn aka Hubert Robert. A Fortunate Life (1997)

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Aleksander Sokurov brings the treasures of the Hermitage back into the light by making films about artists and their paintings. He has chosen the painter Hubert Robert, who spent a long time in Italy, and whose preference was for creating ancient ruined landscapes and naturalistic portrayals of times past. He was successful with the wealthy, who bought his works from him. The camera pans across the paintings while Sokurov speaks of a happy era, when the artist was at one with the spirit of the times, and agreed with the taste of his clients. Just how far removed from us this is, is shown by pictures of a “Nô” performance which are inter-cut on the screen. No words are necessary to describe what everybody knows today Read More »

Aleksandr Sokurov – Elegiya aka Elegy (1985)

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The first “Elegy” by Alexander Sokurov appeared in 1984. The legendary fame of the great Russian singer Fiodor Shaliapin, the fame that was still alive in his homeland, resisted to the official tendency of reproaching him for emigrating from Russia. When Sokurov, whose first films seemed to be buried forever in the closed film archives and whose every new work was stopped in the very beginning, made his “Elegy” — without financing, supported only by the enthusiasm of his team, — the Leningrad Documentary Films Productions tried to legalize the film, but with no success. The answer of the highest cinema officials was: “Shaliapin is not forgiven.” It was the time when Shaliapin had not yet got the “imperial” pardon. Read More »