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Not flawless, but overall great, being exceptionally artsy and atmospheric
I love this film, I first saw in 1989. It is not an all time great masterpiece, of course, mostly because of its imperfect, but still very good directing (actually it was debut work of this film's director). However, that is well forgivable regarding awesome music and stunning performance by Viktor Avilov, who is as great in this role, as no one could ever be. The movie perfectly conveys the atmosphere of Russian Decadence, the cultural phenomenon, which is also called "The Silver Age" of Russian culture. It was a period since approx. 1905 till the beginning of WW1 in 1914. To understand what it was you must have a cultural experience of being a Russian. You have to feel its beautiful enigmatic spirit in poetry, prose, music and painting of that era, penetrated with troubled anticipation of great changes to come. Having seen this film, you will be haunted by this atmosphere - only if you are able to tune yourself to its wavelength. If you are a fan of scary movies like "Hellraiser" or "Elm street Nightmare" - just skip it. There is nothing in Western cinema to be compared with this. It must be emotionally experienced to say whether you like it or not, depending on your personal emotional constitution. As for myself, this film is rather a philosophic story about an artist, who dared to challenge the God and was punished for that. It bears a powerful emotional impact, amplified by times by the great music score.
I give the movie 10/10, forgiving flaws of directing.
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