This is a very special documentary on Shostakovich. Firstly Sokhurov is a film director and it shows - he has put together some beautiful images within an unusual structure. The film uses the last summer of Shostakovich's life and particularly some details of the composition of the Viola Sonata as a reference point to which the film returns several times. Thus he mixes the chronology of the composer's life. The film reveals some wonderful examples which illustrate Shostakovich's nature. The film had a turbulent history - made in 1980, just 5 years after the composer's death, the film was "arrested" by the KGB and Sokhurov hid a version of the film which was released in the 1990s. It must be stressed the film is not an A-Z of the composer's life - it does not mention "Lady Macbeth" nor the 13th Symphony (2 extremely important events in the composer's career). Perhaps these events could not be discussed in 1980 USSR. However it is a wonderful film and it's narrative reminded of Tarkovky's "The Mirror". I recommend this over the "Shostakovich against Stalin" documentary - Sokhurov has given us a masterpiece of filmaking on the subject of a great composer. I wish everyone could see this film.
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