Well I remember a conversation I had about it with a Russian friend and him wondering bemusedly what a non-Russian audience could possibly get out of the film. There's a lot to miss if your knowledge or Russian history and culture is shaky. But anyway, I consider myself fairly ignorant on both and still managed to find things to sink my teeth into beyond the technical virtuosity of it all, which sadly seems to be the focus of most reviews and discussions on the subject and I think ultimately a pretty narrow and unrewarding way of engaging with the film (one which generally ends with people writing it off as a beautiful but overindulgent and empty exercise and a tedious watch - or a glorified virtual tour, which is not that bad I guess). Not to say that the whole endeavor isn't worthy of praise but at the end of the day it's just logistics (also why long take fetishism can be, quite frankly, boring). Iirc, Sokurov himself, tellingly, has remarkably little interest in talking about that side of things.
But... to be fair the single continuous take definitely suits the flowing structure of the film and its all encompassing narrative. Plus, it helps than even when the goings-on get confusing it doesn't make any of it less hypnotic to look at. And with the historical context in mind, the meandering, floating camera adds to the haunting, melancholy quality of the proceedings. Also if you consider that a single take is essentially a rejection of film editing techniques (advocated by guys like Sergei Eisenstein etc in the 1920s), in a fashion the film's formal characteristics match the reactionary thematic content which is neato. Of course, in the same way cinematic long takes actually come after editing historically speaking, Sokurov's pov is more ambivalent than full blown czarist nostalgia.
Make it a double feature with this one (also taking place at the Hermitage, relevant passage below). Filmmaking deathmatch, Russian long take vs. Soviet montage
Very interesting take, I am looking forward to sitting down and not blinking for 96 minutes (don't want to miss the scene). I assume everyone has had some generic exposure to Russian history spanning the last half-millennium, but of course I have only ingested a superficial treatment of a very complex and twisted past (which includes Zemyatin's We, definitely a fun read).
Change of pace but still within the pseudo-Marxist framework, la société du spectacle
I'd like to sit down and read it at some point. I understand there is an English language movie as well ?
Went to the NYFF last weekend to see "Manchester By The Sea" & "Moonlight".
MBTS had everyone in the entire theater crying their eyes including me. Haunting film about family tragedy and grief. Casey Affleck performance is down right excellent. All the Oscar talk on Affleck for Best Actor is 100% justified. Highly Recommend everyone see this film when it releases next month.
Moonlight is another exceptional film. Told in three parts about a boy that's dealing with being gay in an urban community, Miami, and how it affects him as he becomes a grown man. The acting & script is superb. I don't want to give too much away but I hope everyone sees this when it comes out on the 21st.
I'm seeing Jackie starring Natalie Portman this Thursday and James Gray's The Lost City of Z next week Saturday.
Guess I'll give a quick review on those two as well.