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MOTHER AND SON

Russia / Germany, 1997 (MIFF 1998, A Solitary Human Voice - The Films of Alexandr Sokurov)

Director: Alexander Sokurov

It is the aura of delicate ambiguity that defines Mother and Son as a contemporary cinematic masterpiece. A fragile mother is dying, although if is uncertain whether she is physically ill or just resigned to death after a lifetime of hardship. A son has returned to her side, yet there are few clues as to the location or time. Under darkening skies he walks her through an empty village. In fields of flattened corn he reflects on his impending despair. His loneliness is already evident before his mother dies, while he solemnly watches a steam train disappear - the only reference in the film to the outside world.

Mother and Son has been described as the last act of a mighty saga, where the final two characters remain to resolve often largely unresolvable issues. Sokurov creates stillness as much as motion - the narrative is composed of a series of lingering moments which form a spiritual whole greater than the individual parts. The work of the German romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich served as visual inspiration lor the mise en scene. In Sokurov's words, "His paintings have a very simple, highly poetical and emotional mastery. The dramatical context of these paintings matched completely those of my film... Between a mother and a son there is virtually only one relationship, that of love, irrespective of how it manifests itself."

"The care Sokurov applies to these fastidiously crafted scenes echoes the care with which his characters treat each other - the devotion to detail, the unhurried tenderness, the love. Watching this film, we are forced to confront the inevitability of our own mortality, and the mortality of others. Emotions are awakened within us of a sort that cinema hasn't dealt with for a long time... My initial response to this film was to shed tears for the sadness of things. And its unique pulse has reverberated through me ever since." - Nick Cave

See also...

Diary of st petersburg - mozart.requiem

Russia, 2004
Filmed in a single take, Alexander Sokurov's remarkable [Russian Ark] captured the imaginations of film-goers everywhere. This narrator of Russian culture and spirit takes us back to St Petersburg in… More »

The Sun

Russia, Italy, Switzerland, France, 2004
“Wonderfully eccentric and fascinating.” - The New York Times ... Celebrated Russian master, Aleksandr Sokurov, continues his portraits of fading totalitarian leaders with this epic work, the thi… More »

ALEXANDRA

Russia/France, 2006
“Alexandra presents war for what it is: brutal, crushing, and ugly.” - Variety Filmmaker Alexander Sokurov (The Sun at MIFF 06, Russian Ark) casts an austere gaze over war-torn Chechnya with this… More »

WHISPERING PAGES

Russia, Germany, 1993
"The shape of a dark world - in both senses of the word - comes into view in slow pans which are only interrupted by cuts to a new location. We see the facades of dockland buildings, the catacomb-lik… More »

Oriental Elegy

Russia, 1996
"What a strange dream.. a stork, a river, an old park, a voice, through the mist, the outline of a house becomes visible. The houses seem to push each other aside, they huddle together, they rock on … More »

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