EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|CONFESSION (POVINNOST) (TV) (director/writer: Alexander Sokurov; cinematographer: A. Federov; editor: Leda Semyonova; cast: Serguei Bakai (Commander); Runtime: 210; MPAA Rating: NR; Facets Video; 1998-Russia-in Russian with English subtitles)|
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
The always creative Russian filmmaker Alexander Sokurov ("Russian Ark"/"Mother and Son"/"Father and Son") helms an unusual lyrical doc that was filmed for a Russian TV mini-series in five parts. Confession (translates as sense of duty, and might vaguely refer to St. Augustine's Confessions but with a Russian soul) is a soul-searching epic film on tedium and the human spirit. It covers the mundane life on a Russian battleship while the ship sails the icy waters of the Barents Sea and the ship's unnamed fictionalized Commander (Serguei Bakai), while standing on the bridge in the often foggy weather, discusses marine life, the thoughtful writings in his diary, his love for Chekhov and the duty of the men to serve their country while offering his fruitful meditation on despair and how the loneliness of life at sea affects him and his conscripted crew.
If you're not bored to
or put off by its bleakness, this unique film has the
capture on film the Russian sense of fatalism that its
(with Chekhov, Tolstoy and Dostoevsky depicted
as the very pillars of Russian civilization) have captured throughout
history in their
literature (something only a handful of great films
were able to do).
It very likely will make the casual film-goer seasick.
But for the more
hearty adventurers, those looking for something
from a film, this well-crafted numbing lyrical work on
isolation and depression should be looked upon as a
rare opportunity to
see the film of a great artist, the replacement of the
Tarkovsky as Russia's greatest filmmaker, operate
uncensored and in
full control of the medium. The b/w pic succeeds
despite the lack of
plot, action sequences, formidable characters and
should blow away those sticklers believing film must
be just narrative.
Its uncompromising in its
filmmaking and its
acceptance of hopelessness (the ship is a metaphor
for life as a
prison) as a realistic human condition (similar to
It also reminds me of Claire Denis' brilliant Beau
Travail in its
naturalism and homoerotic underpinnings (without
being a gay film, it's
filled with shots of naked virile military men, who
around in the shower).
REVIEWED ON 3/8/2010 GRADE: A-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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