PRINT March 2008


Alexander Sokurov’s Alexandra

ALEXANDER SOKUROV’S single-take Russian Ark (2002) ends when the seemingly exhausted camera comes to rest on a slate-gray waterscape, one of the director’s many apparitional images of the lost Russian soul. In his latest work, Alexandra, Sokurov again broods on his nation’s anguished being, but with a new simplicity and directness. Like the babushka after whom the film is named, Alexandra is purposeful and forthright, occasionally prone to obviousness in its striving for clarity. Suppressed are the sfumato effects, the murmuring obscurity, the trancelike attenuations and abeyances of time, the anamorphic distortion, and the spectral experiments with barely-there imagery and chimerical sound that have defined Sokurov’s cinema. Nevertheless, like many of his films, Alexandra is a requiem—for a traduced culture, for a country unable to withdraw from a barbaric regional conflict, for an iconic

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