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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I have seen this film for the first time more than 10 years ago. Since
then I saw it so many times, but it never betrayed my expectation. The
story is rather simple and clear, if you do not stick to rich details
and strangeness of some situation.
A young Russian doctor Maryanov, who has been sent to the Central Asia, is working on a academic research, in his free time. But his work somehow causes unpleasantness with the Order, so it disturbs him to get him give up the research. The surroundings, natives of the land, and supernatural forces are standing in his way. After the runaway of his best friend Vecherovsky,Mayranov is left in complete solitude. In short, this is a tragic fable of a intelligent young man in a dull, decayed society(not necessarily Soviet Union).
This simple story is told through marvelous cinematography and intriguing multi-layered soundtrack,which is worth remembering as a best achievement of contemporary film art. There is no movie star,no Dolby surround, no big budget, but this film will be remembered for a long time for its humanistic implications and cinematographic beauty.
Rare astonishing movie in beautifully sepia colour, beautifully slow
story is about a young Moscow doctor who went to the south to do some
research and is struggling with loneliness, displacedness, temperature and so on. Also beautiful music, a piece of art
Loosely based on a great science-fiction novel Billion Years Before the End of the World by renowned authors Boris and Andrei Strugatsky, it one of my favorite films. It is hard to say what is more striking in this film -cinematography or the ideas it is about.
Everything seems random, trying maybe to turn a simple story into
something more complex. I think there are too many different ideas
mashed at once, the result being thematically disconnected, too vague
and cold for any poetry to have a strong effect on me.
It may be my fault since I lack knowledge about Russian history or geography but I believe the film should give me more tools to be a part of the dream, fantasy or whatever. Ideas follow each other without too much conviction or any strong link between them.
Not entirely bad but in my opinion it's very far from the achievements of its genre, some of them by the same director.
In the final years of the Soviet Union, a Russian doctor arrives in a
godforsaken town in the middle of a desert in Turkmenia (the place that
would become a few years later the independent state of Turkmenistan,
one of the least known and more mysterious countries of the world). His
mission there is not clear, though it is apparently to investigate why
old believers get fewer ailments than other people. But soon, a series
of mysterious things will happen to him.
Shot in a very opaque style and with a photography almost drained of color, this movie promises in the first quarter of an hour that it might be interesting if very unconventional, but it soon descends into absurdity. It ends up being a complete mess.
Director Alexander Sokurov has made some interesting films after this (Russian Ark, for instance, or some of his documentaries) but this, one of his first movies, is basically unwatchable.
Filmed mostly with a fly on the wall - style (there are very few closeups), the shortcomings of this film are too many to mention. But to mention a few, the actors look like zombies, delivering lines with zero expression (this is fault of the director, not of them). The plot becomes incomprehensible not that the director seems to care much about that. And though this was shot in present day Turkmenistan, very few Turkmen appear mostly as far away props.
Based on a well regarded science fiction story by the Arkady and Boris Strugatsky though in no way this movie can be called a SF film, it's basically a pretentious art movie.
Making art is a matter of finding clouds in the sky of mind, forming
them into objects, often glassy and jagged. Encountering art is a
matter of deciding how to dance and carry, whether to digest or be
wounded. For art to be powerful ,real art, you need both, which means
that the artist has two challenges, the second of which is to seduce.
This is successful only in the first, the birthing. One can clearly see that we have someone who knows what he wants and has the ability to make it so. This film is a completely coherent creation, each part bonding to the others in a way that conveys perhaps a too understandable effect. In this, it is much closer to ordinary Soviet film-making than Tarkovksy, to whom this fellow is often compared.
So its a nicely machined object. There's craft, vision.
But it didn't convey to me at all, probably because no matter how much I open myself, I don't have the nightmares it depends on. I imagine this resonated with its intended audience: citizens of a country cobble together from grotesquely primitive regions and managed with mechanical brutality.
I image that if you live close to Islam, or close to a supremely backward people, mixed in with the opposing violences of occupation... where everyone is underemployed and no art finds a happy garden... where paper matters and there's no escaping the heat... where all that you and everyone around you just want to do is run away...
...it might resonate.
Meanwhile, what you'll get is a dreamy meditation for others. He hasn't brought it to me.
Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.
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