Plot. Fractal Images of Memory in Mother and Son, Part 2 Alexander Sokurov. Father and Son (Russian: Отец и сын, translit. Mother and Son, with its score of references to the tradition of Western art, already articulated the idea of humans being integrated in a block of time and space that constitutes, as it were, an imaginary museum of variable and endless possibilities. One of most important contemporary filmmakers, Sokurov worked extensively in television and later graduated from the prestigious film school, VGIK, in 1979. In Father and Son, Alexander Sokurov unabashedly tiptoes over the thin line between an ethereal connection and incestuous love, and bestows onto the world cinema probably one of the most brilliantly homoerotic controversies of all time. Following in his father's path, Aleksei attends military school. Second chapter of Alexander Sokurov's trilogy on family relationships, the first being “Mother and Son”. Apparently, it was supposed to be the first part of a trilogy, which was complemented with Sokurov’s later work Father and Son (2003). Mother and Son (Alexander Sokurov, 1997) Gary Morris; December 1, 1998 Even the cinematic frame isn’t safe from Sokurov’s grim sleight-of-hand. Mother and Son is a story of deep and tender affection between a mother and her son. It is however the film’s treatment of time, rather than its fabled visuals, which calls today for further inquiry. Even the film’s carefully produced sound design, itself replicating the sensation of a cotton-like coating, enshrouded the whole (including the viewer) like a funeral veil. Murmurs from a Shadowless Land: Fragmentary Reflections on the Cinema of Werner Herzog, Criminals Against Decoration: Modernism as a Heist, Claustrophobia and Intimacy in Alex Ross Perry’s, Thresholds of Work and Non-Work in Tulapop Saenjaroen’s, “Rouch Isn’t Here, He Has Left”: A Report on Building Bridges: The Cinema of Jean Rouch, The 34th Cinema Ritrovato Has Full Resuscitation under COVID, Women at the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival, A Vitalising Cinema in an Agitated Age: The 58th New York Film Festival, Your Daughters Come Back to You: The 28th Pan African Film and Arts Festival. They have lived alone for years in their own private world, full of memories and daily rites. Aleksandr Sokurov Celebrity Profile - Check out the latest Aleksandr Sokurov photo gallery, biography, pics, pictures, interviews, news, forums and blogs at Rotten Tomatoes! During his early period, he produced numerous documentaries, including The Dialogues with Solzhenitsyn and a reportage about Gri… He watches her sleep, takes her for a walk (or rather carries her), reads to her, gives her medicine, and, when she falls asleep, goes for a walk alone. He is the great Russian director who once shot a whole film in a single take. Conversely, there was undeniably a vibrant, ebullient (juvenile, almost) quality to Sokurov’s Perestroika films (Skorbnoe beschustviye [Mournful Insensitivity, 1982, released 1986], Dni zatmeniya [Days of the Eclipse, 1986, released 1987], and Spasi i sokhrani [Save and Protect, 1989]). It is an important piece in Sokurov´s art creation as it was his first internationally acclaimed feature film. Mother tells the story of a dying mother and her absolutely devoted son. Aleksandr Sokurov's previous films have borne such titles as The Lonely Voice of Man, The Degraded and Sad Insensitivity, accompanied by documentary 'elegies' - To be sure, seldom has film been more transfigured, to the point of resembling a series of paintings. Time Out is a registered trademark of Time Out Digital Limited. He graduated from the History Department of the Nizhny Novgorod University in 1974 and entered one of the VGIK studios the following year. But in the 1997 opus – much like its warmer, sepia and gold hues are in contrast with the wintry, muted chromatic palette of The Second Circle – the promise of a reunion in the afterlife is asserted. He did so by demonstrating the greater proximity of Sokurov’s Tikhiye stranitsy (Whispering Pages, 1994) with the tradition in turn-of-the-century photographs for a flattening of space in order to move away from representational realism, rather than with the painterly tradition per se. Jeremi Szaniawski is Assistant Professor in Comparative Literature and Film Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She is dying. A young man (Alexander Anaishnov) has come to take care of his mother (Gudrin Geyer) who lives alone in rural Russia. As I noted elsewhere, Mother and Son proposes a new phenomenology of time, the feeling of which it nearly abolishes to remarkable effect. He was born with a disability because of an anatomic defect of his leg, in 1951 in Podorvikha village in Siberian Russia. ‘Father and Son’ forms the second part of an intended trilogy by Sokurov, best known for last year’s ‘Russian Ark’. Alexander Sokurov’s Mother and Son is a son’s farewell to his dying mother. 1 This is what Fredric Jameson has identified in other Sokurov films as “l’emploi du temps”,6 a time of routine and contemplation, perambulatory or fixed, which never seems to end – nor ever to start, for that matter. More importantly, Rancière showed the contradictions of the professed bi-dimensionality in Sokurov’s corpus, by highlighting elements of depth and time in his films. A promise is hinted at – and articulated later in the more triumphant if equally melancholy Russkiy kovcheg (Russian Ark, 2002) – of a renewed faith, and the possibility for these “eternal souls” to sail forever. The answer to both questions must have to do in equal parts with the end of communism and the near total collapse of the Russian economy as with its rebirth under Vladimir Putin. In Mother and Son, death is thematised through the mother’s fate, but also through the network of allusions of the romantic representations, and the proximate nature of anamorphosis and the Vanitas as a genre (think of the anamorphic skull in Holbein’s amply commented The Ambassadors). His next, Father and Son, is a classic Sokurov, a mythical, lyrical film that should be seen as the second part of the family trilogy that started with Mother and Son … This belief ties in with the Russian man’s equally strong belief that the redemption of the West, now in decline, would come from Russia, harboring and protecting the great ghost, the great spirit of the West, now imperiled. The characters speak to one another from an unlikely beyond. Michelle Carey • Daniel Fairfax • Fiona Villella • César Albarrán-Torres. Sokurov’s film shows us what happens not when the story is over, but before it has started, in which humans who had the misfortune of living in the “wrong time” (or their descendants), can see, at least, the dignity in their death, until (or rather, and again, before) Empire Come. With a visually stunning, quiet intensity, director Alexander Sokurov awakens the senses to the world of nature, human relationships, and death in this film about the poignant last hours of a dying mother and the son who cares for her. By entering your email address you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy and consent to receive emails from Time Out about news, events, offers and partner promotions. © 2021 Time Out England Limited and affiliated companies owned by Time Out Group Plc. Alexander Sokurov ("Russian Ark") starts his trilogy about family bonds and memory. Much as the ghost of Stalin was never entirely gone from Russia (through the 1990s and early 2000s it was stupefying to see the number of cab drivers in St. Petersburg or Moscow who adorned their cars with an effigy of the Batyushka – as many as those who would boast an Orthodox icon, making the two essentially indistinguishable in their function), so was Sokurov’s “retreat” into contemplative and slow cinema never entirely bereft of ideological agenda and implications. Aleksandr Sokurov’s films include Russian Ark, A Russian Youth, Mother and Son, Faust… This is not an entombment, then, but rather an en-womb-ment; no funeral veil so much as a placenta-like wrapping – with the quasi-uterine and aquatic, filtered sound design and promise of rebirth contained therein. He too is absent when his mother dies (in The Second Circle, the son arrives too late). This allowed Sokurov to layer and give additional depth to his mise en scène: the director would paint onto the surface of the mirror, adding surprising and unique effects to his already unusual, soft and gauzy representations. Mother and Son 3 out of 5 stars. Aleksandr Sokurov’s Mother and Son (1997) contains examples of what I am calling the transcendental time-image. 83m/C DVD . Look out for your first newsletter in your inbox soon! Aleksandr Sokurov talks to Steve Rose about Soviet spies, fallen dictators – and … Avoiding the kitsch such reproductions may have yielded, director Aleksandr Sokurov resorted to a variety of practical tricks: in some shots he used anamorphic, distorting lenses applied directly onto the camera; in other instances, the image was actually shot in the mirror reflection of miniature landscapes and ruins – accounting for the many fixed, static compositions in the film. At the time of the film’s release, Sokurov exalted the bi-dimensionality and flatness of the cinematic image, relating it to the painterly tradition – specifically to that of the religious icon – elevating cinema as art. We already have this email. Elena Gracheva, “Kolybelnaya” in Arkus Lyubov (ed.). The film was entered into feature film competition at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival. It is thus unsurprising that he reached for Friedrich’s sublime landscapes for inspiration, the project of romantic art being (as identified by Hölderlin) to exacerbate the real in order to show what is hidden beyond: in this case, God. In other words, Rancière debunked the proverbial “anxiety of influence” in Sokurov, or his Oedipal rejection of the Soviet and/or modernist father, and the reactionary stance lurking behind Sokurov’s death-ridden characterisations and overly aestheticised and de-populated realms. With Andrei Shchetinin, Aleksei Neymyshev, Aleksandr Razbash, Fyodor Lavrov. Of the former (the story of a hapless son incapable of tending to his dead father’s funeral arrangements), John Mackay aptly pointed out to the feeling of “surplus” of death.4 The film thus spoke to the very belated coming to terms, in Russia, with the horrors of Stalinism, kept under a lid until the collapse of the USSR. Before Empire Come: Mother and Son (Aleksandr Sokurov, 1997) The story of a mother slowly dying while in the care of her son, Mat i syn (Mother and Son, 1997) was lauded worldwide at the time of its release – first and foremost for its stunning visuals of idyllic countryside and misty forests, deeply informed, as most critics noted, by the paintings of Caspar David Friedrich. Subscribe to Senses of Cinema to receive news of our latest cinema journal.Enter your email address below: The story of a mother slowly dying while in the care of her son, Mat i syn (Mother and Son, 1997) was lauded worldwide at the time of its release – first and foremost for its stunning visuals of idyllic countryside and misty forests, deeply informed, as most critics noted, by the paintings of Caspar David Friedrich.1. Thanks for subscribing! The case is no different with Sokurov's latest film, Mother and Son , which depicts the final day of an old woman's life as she is being cared for by her son. The question “what could have motivated Sokurov, the mournful, but vibrant filmmaker of films such as Days of the Eclipse, to retreat into a cinema increasingly preoccupied with death and contemplation, through the 1990s?” is thus correlated to the equally problematic “how is a superb chamber artist like Sokurov […] moved […] to reflect on the lives of ‘great men’ like Lenin, Hitler and Hirohito?”5. But Alexander Sokurov's Russian Ark has every right to the claim. Aleksandr Sokurov, Director: Russkiy kovcheg. Award-winning Russian filmmaker Alexander Sokurov (Russian Ark) directs the intimate drama Father and Son (Otets I Syn), a companion piece to his 1996 film Mother and Son. Since Sokurov envisages the twentieth century as having lost this transcendental ability, we can interpret his aesthetic project in Mother and Son as the antidote to contemporary art: a blending of religious traditions with “natural religion” – as expressed in the painterly sublime. There he became friends with Tarkovsky and was deeply influenced by his film Mirror. This is not a post-narrative time as Rancière reads it in Tarr, even as both filmmakers show an equal interest, in this antechamber of sorts, for the fabric of the sensitive (“l’étoffe sensible”). Otets i syn) is a 2003 Russian drama film directed by Alexander Sokurov. But was it only in order to come closer to the contemplative, absorbing regime of the religious icon as mediated here through the secular mystery of the romantic sublime that Sokurov had decided to remove, inasmuch as is possible, the feeling of passing of time from his film? Founded in 1999, Senses of Cinema is one of the first online film journals of its kind and has set the standard for professional, high quality film-related content on the Internet. Fredric Jameson, “History and Elegy in Sokurov”. With Mother and Son, Sokurov posited himself as a “therapist of souls” for some, while reminding others of a forgotten function of art. While the first contradiction could not be more salient in Mother and Son, the latter cognitive dissonance is also exemplified in the film – and is more apparent today than it was twenty years ago. In this paper, I will be relating the time-images found in Mother and Son to the notion of fractals. Many have pointed out to the a-chronological and “fairy tale” nature of the film. If the lives of many (and nowhere more so than in Russia, as it were) had gone to waste, at least, the director thought, they could find some solace in the acceptance of death. He imputed this injustice to the cultural and spiritual vacuum of the day, proposing a film that would do away with the 20th century, and inviting its viewer to another approach of cinema, of time, and existence. Alexander Sokurov: Mother and Son “Mother and Son“ is a Russian film directed by A. Sokurov in 1997. The viewer pays a high price for a film. In this, and despite all its Germanic and Western influence, the film and its maker could not be more Russian. As Elena Gracheva notes, in Sokurov, art is what renders the invisible visible, but without stirring or breaking down the flatness of the cover that warrants the mystery’s integrity – thereby underlining the importance of bi-dimensionality in painting and cinema.3 Sokurov also made disparaging comments about modernism and twentieth century art at large, lamenting its loss of tradition. Though this sublime morphed into a different form of affect, reaching its more appeased, spiritualist form, in Mother and Son, the helplessness and pain of the son remain nonetheless. Most of Sokurov's early features were banned by Soviet authorities. The film begins before the first scene and ends after the last, with the sound of wind in the trees and the songs of birds. I truly hope so. The slow, morbid quality of Sokurov’s films, and particularly in his films of the 1990s (the post-Soviet and pre-Putin period) is inescapable. And not in money. Click here to make a donation. Nonetheless, this despondence and sorrow fuelled the artist’s Muse – The Second Circle and Mother and Son being perhaps his two greatest films. His films, in a most transparent way, marked a departure, a retreat from the social sphere in these years of failed and aborted reforms and socio-economic turmoil, their hazy, ghostly aesthetics and the characters that float through rather than inhabit them being a direct reflection of the despondence and powerlessness felt by the director. As is well known, Russian Ark was shot entirely in the Hermitage, one of the world’s greatest art collections. Sometimes even like lovers. Directed by Aleksandr Sokurov. Which leads us back to Mother and Son’s treatment of time – and its meaning – proper. As it were. 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