The Cinema of Alexander Sokurov: Figures of Paradox (Directors' Cuts)
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One of the last representatives of a brand of serious, high-art cinema, Alexander Sokurov has produced a massive oeuvre exploring issues such as history, power, memory, kinship, death, the human soul, and the responsibility of the artist. Through contextualization and close readings of each of his feature fiction films (broaching many of his documentaries in the process), this volume unearths a vision of Sokurov's films as equally mournful and passionate, intellectual, and sensual, and also identifies in them a powerful, if discursively repressed, queer sensitivity, alongside a pattern of tensions and paradoxes. This book thus offers new keys to understand the lasting and ever-renewed appeal of the Russian director's Janus-like and surprisingly dynamic cinema -- a deeply original and complex body of work in dialogue with the past, the present and the future.
of the Cuban crises and the Vietnam War. This, I believe, on equal weight with the divorce of the parents and the absent yet overbearing figure of the poet father, explains the director’s obsession with time as an entity that can be sculpted – the product, no doubt, of a period of utopia and terror, a heightened historical moment, a world filled with the necessity of faith as a response to its many uncertainties, accounting for Tarkovsky’s blend of humanism with megalomaniac, Icaric and radical
objects in the father’s apartment: doused in a blinding overexposed light, and endowed with life through photogénie, yet covered in dust and left abandoned, alive and dead all at once. The play of scale in Sokurov is not limited to close-ups. In many of his films, including The Second Circle, he uses miniatures of the buildings and sets that he is shooting. In Days of the Eclipse and Save and Protect, actors are actually shown walking through these models of houses and towns, creating a
the whole German Romantic school which delved so deeply into the notion of death and the sublime (see chapter eight). This trope of inert naked feet was already at work in a similarly darkly comedic short film by Sokurov, Empire, an ‘exercice de style’ in noirish cinematography, f i gu re s of pa r a d ox Sokurov_pages.indb 109 109 11/11/13 10:10:07 based on Louise Fletcher’s Sorry, Wrong Number, in which a paralysed woman (Alla Osipenko) eavesdrops on a phone conversation discussing a
Chekhov’s condition improved initially, but the reprieve was brief, and the writer’s health declined spectacularly shortly thereafter. He died on July 15th of the same year, away from his beloved Russia. In his final letter to his sister, he was wondering about the best way to get home: by train or by boat. The motifs of death and a return home, as we have seen in several examples already, are prominent in Alexander Sokurov’s cinema, and can hardly be lost on any of his commentators.1 With his
inescapable: Joseph Goebbels makes a jocular reference to it during the meal scene, and the names of the main characters coincide almost exactly with the first humans of the Good Book. But just as the Nazi enterprise aimed, among other things, at destroying or inverting the morals and values of the Christian West – appearing close, in its project of ritualistic neo-paganism and celebration of destruction, to Satanist practices of the Middle Ages founded on the grotesque inversion of Christian