Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Alexandra is the lastest film by Alexander Sokurov. It will be shown as part of the Masters program. It tells the story of a woman who travels to visit her grandson, a Russian officer stationed in the Republic of Chechnya.

Now, am I really interested in seeing this. No, I'll be heading the other way. Sokurov is a well known Russian filmmaker who specializes in avant-garde and independent films.

The only film I have seen of his is "Russian Ark". It was nominated for the Golden Palm at Cannes. It won the vision award at Toronto. It was shot in one continuous take on the fourth try at the Russian State Hermitage Museum. So, obviously, it was filmed in a day. Critics raved about it. A review like the one below, convinced me to see it.

Told in one fluid shot, a tale which floats like a dreamlike journey through the majestic spaces of the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, engaging real and imagined characters from Russian and European history. The nameless protagonist, a 19th-century French diplomat, guides the audience through a lost, sumptuous dream that was the Enlightenment period. The film, staged among some of the Western Art tradition's greatest masterpieces, climaxes in a pageant of color, motion, and music. For Sokurov, the Hermitage--home to generations of Romonovs and repository of so much Russian history--is the ark of the Russian soul, guarding it affectionately until the world sees better days.

I don't know how I made it through the film. While beautifully shot, and you have to give him credit for attempting a one shot film, it bored me to tears. If there was a gripping narrative to the film, it shot over my head. Since it was one take, the camera is constantly moving, but I could never gather a sense of where it was going or "merciful God" when it was going to end. The review above claims it was a "sumptuous dream". If I had that dream, I might never be able to sleep again. It did peak my interest to go the Hermitage if I ever travel to Russia.

Fans of Sokurov, line up for this film. I will be heading the opposite direction. Below is clip from "Alexandra." Hope you either speak Russian or at least can read French.

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