There's a scene in the original version of Rollerball (1975), where a group of wealthy revellers take some sort of ray gun to a stand of tall trees, burning, they light up the dusk. The atmosphere of this scene, a sort of unchecked wilfulness, a blithe feeling of supremacy and elitism, infuses much of Alexander Zeldovich's new film Target. The word ambitious has been floated around a lot to describe it, a critical euphemism for a film that overreaches, and yet I think it's a long, complex and excellent film that repays analysis and is definitely one to view several times.
The most obvious commentary in this movie, set in Russia of the future is about wealth distribution and squandering of assets. In 2006 a survey reported that the richest three people on the planet have more wealth than the poorest 48 countries. This was a phenomenon that maybe hadn't permeated its way back into Russia until perestroika, and the advent of the robber barons *ahem* I mean oligarchs. The peers of this realm revel in their situation, Roman in their outlook, gratified by the disparity. This is set out in a couple of particularly elegant scenarios (nets and earrings if you've seen the film).
Four of the privileged head off to a remote location where a gigantic quantum sieve, a relic of the space age, collects some sort of zero point energy that's meant to halt the ageing process. This is does, but it also seems to accentuate the trajectories of each character's fate. My thought at the end was that it's really a movie about love, but you have to work to get to that. I suppose it depends on whether you think Solyaris is a movie about love or about a strange shiny planet. I don't think the comparison is a bad one either. It's very boring to read almost every film on the festival circuit being labelled Tarkovsky-ian, but I very much felt that Target is cut from the same cloth as Solyaris.
There's a lot going on in the movie, action, science fiction, political commentary, romance, quotes from Lermontov. It's a colourful movie mostly filled with upbeat music, and three hours of it still felt short to me.
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