|WHISPERING PAGES (TIKHIYE STRANITSY) (director/writer: Aleksandr Sokurov; screenwriter: based on 19th-century Russian prose; cinematographer: Aleksandr Burov; editor: Leda Semyonova ; music: Gustav Mahler; cast: Aleksandr Cherednik (hero), Elizaveta Korolyova (girl), Sergei Barkovsky (official); Runtime: 77; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Thomas Kufus /Martin Hagemann/Vladimir Fotiyev; NR; Cinema Guild (PAL format); 1994-Russia-in Russian with English subtitles)|
|"The heavy going abstract film
probably will appeal only to hard-core
by Dennis Schwartz
arty Russian filmmaker Aleksandr
Sokurov ("Russian Ark"/"Moscow Elegy"/"Mother
and Son") goes full-blast into the abstract in his
haunting hypnotic journey into the major literary
themes of 19th century Russia. Some might
recognize Dostoevsky in its major
theme, but also along for the ride are other notable
19th century Russian writers such as
Gogol and Gorky, Pushkin and Tolstoy. Its
intellectual content is mindful of how
Sokurov supporter Andrei Tarkovsky used
such weighty material for his non-commercial films.
The heavy going abstract film probably will
appeal only to hard-core cinephiles. Also, it
can perhaps be valued just as much for its
experimental technical accomplishments than for any
entertainment value. This is a tough watch. One is
expected to be well-versed in 19th century Russian
literature and be able to see the plotless story as if
it were a personal dream.
main character is the unnamed protagonist (Aleksandr
Cherednik), who is like the
anti-hero of Dostoevsky's "Crime
and Punishment." When he discovers a horrible
bloody murder (off camera) he walks along a river
bank among its many mysterious catacombs
and uses the murder to question everything about
his life, his guilt feelings, his search to find out
if God exists and why he lives in such filth. The
wanderer is encouraged to be such a thinker by the
questionable young woman (Elizaveta
Korolyova) he meets along the
way. He also comes across beggars, the impoverished,
loonies, hostiles and suicides jumping off a bridge.
from Mahler’s song cycle “Kindertotenlieder” supports
the bleakness and adds to the grey-like atmosphere.
Its shot in black-and-white giving off the aged
look of 19th-century photographs.
dialogue is minimal. The narrative, relating to the
above mentioned Russian literary themes, is structured
like Dante's journey into hell. It's a film that tells
its story best through stunning visuals that
encourages the viewer to meditate on it.
REVIEWED ON 7/19/2015 GRADE: B+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ