Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Alexander Sokurov - a master artist

Famous Russian film-maker Alexander Sokurov, whose name the European Film Academy has put on the list of 100 best film directors of all times, is marking his 60th birthday (the 14th of June) with a new film, Faust, based on Goethe’s poem. Its first viewers will be the participants and guests of the Venetian Film Festival in September.

Practically all Sokurov’s films were shown either in Berlin, or in Cannes, or in Venice, and were always awarded prizes. His films did not go unnoticed in Russia either, Sokurov has enough Russian prizes to fill the shelves of several film-makers. However, there are mixed feelings about his work and himself among the cinematographic community and especially among the audience. This could hardly be otherwise, because Sokurov is associated with the most difficult genre - intellectual or philosophic cinema.

In his interview for The Voice of Russia, Moscow film critic Vyacheslav Shmyrov points out another feature of Alexander Sokurov’s character:

“Europeans definitely see him as Tarkovsky’s successor, - the expert says. – They think that he expresses the humanistic, moral and philosophic tradition which we have inherited from our great writers Leo Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Tarkovsky used to be the symbol of a teaching artist. This means a fervent attitude to teaching when the artist becomes a preacher of humanistic and moral values. Sokurov has inherited all this and he plays this role even more ardently. Some people love him for this preaching tradition and some criticize him. This makes Sokurov a figure standing aside from the common cinematographic process”.

The great 20th century film director Andrey Tarkovsky helped Sokurov at the beginning of his career. His film “Man’s Lonely Voice” based on the stories by Andrey Platonov, was not recognised as a graduation work at the Moscow Institute of Cinematography. Tarkovsky helped the notorious graduate to be employed by the film studio of St. Petersburg (then Leningrad) in 1980.

The skills of the Russian film director are highly appreciated all over the world, he is often invited to carry out master classes in many countries, from Poland to Japan. Probably the world likes Sokurov because his views and interests are not restricted either by national or any other bounds. This is a logical development of his biography. He was born in Siberia and went to school in Poland and Turkmenia in Central Asia. He received a university degree in Moscow and became famous as a film director in St. Petersburg. For example, he made an amazing, unusual film “Russian Ark” in a burst of inspiration, without a single retake. The film shows a whole stratum of Russian history contained in the rooms and exhibits of the famous Hermitage museum.

Voice of Russia

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