Thursday, August 21, 2008
Aleksandr Sokurov - Aleksandra [+Extras] (2007)
Russian master Aleksandr Sokurov has produced another majestic achievement with ALEXANDRA. In a rare instance of working from his own original script, Sokurov tells the simple tale of a woman in the twilight of her life who embarks on a special journey. As the story unfolds, Sokurov's deeper purpose is revealed, resulting in a work that speaks profoundly about the corrosive nature of war. Opera star Galina Vishnevskaya is Alexandra. She hasn't seen her grandson in seven years and, understanding that her life is coming to an end, she decides to visit him at his army camp in war-torn Chechnya. What at first is a beautiful reunion gradually becomes conflicted, as Alexandra is forced to accept the painful realization that she may no longer be the most important figure in her grandson's life. Furthermore, the strain the war is placing on these young men, combined with their restrictive conditions, is even harder for her to bear. When her grandson must return to work, Alexandra floats around the camp, having brief but profound interactions with many different soldiers. While these exchanges vary from the humorous to the dramatic, there is a striking purity and simplicity to Sokurov's overall vision--not to mention Vishnevskaya's unforgettable, heartbreaking performance--that makes ALEXANDRA feel universal and profound.
Chechen Republic, present day. Russian troop positions. Aleksandra Nikolaevna is a grand-mother who has come to see her grandson, one of the best officers in his unit. She will spend a few days here, and will discover a new world. In this male world there are no women, no warmth or comfort. Daily life is meagre, people are shy of their feelings here. Or maybe there simply isn’t time or energy for feelings. Every day and every hour questions of life and death are decided here. And yet it is still a world populated by people.