Starring: Elena Rufanova, Leonid Mosgovoi, Leonid Sokol, Yelena Spiridonova, Vladimir Bogdanov
Written by: Yuri Arabov, Marina Koreneva
Directed by: Alexander Sokurov
A Dialogue on Sokurov's Moloch Benjamin Halligan
The arrival of Aleksandr Sokurov's Mat' i syn (Mother and Son, 1997) on the international festival circuit was one of the cinematic highlights of 1998; the one-time Russian dissident film-maker - and protégé of Andrei Tarkovsky - had arrived triumphantly on the world's screens.
Praise for the film, "difficult" even by Art Cinema standards, was plentiful and as much from other film-makers as from critics. Musician Nick Cave's confessional piece "I Wept and Wept, from Start to Finish" (The Independent on Sunday, London, 29 March 1998) lent street kudos to the film and it was widely seen and discussed.
The anticipation that greeted Sokurov's subsequent film - Moloch (1999) - still doing the rounds on the international film festivals - soon gave way to bafflement. News of the film's subject matter - Adolf Hitler - had given rise to the suggestion that Sokurov would present a meditation on European fascism from the dying moments of the century of fascism and the first full century of film. Moloch precipitated hopes of a study of the actual figure of Hitler and what drove him to such evil (characters are rarely more "present" than in Sokurov's films), a "meta-history" of the type identified in Mat' i syn and a film with mythic considerations (the term "Moloch" refers to a deity found in several ancient cultures - Greek, Israeli, Cathari - associated with the sacrifice of children.) Perhaps, Moloch would present the antidote to recent Hollywood excursions into this territory. ...