Russian cinema on eternal and relevant things
The number of Russian movies presented at the 55th International London Film Festival to last from October 12th to 27th can be called unprecedented - four full-length and two co-production films, including a Russian-British cartoon.
The London festival, with its thoroughly balanced program, will feature a total of 204 works from 55 countries. Among the audience’s favorite movies presented in the Best Film nomination is Faust, the final chapter in Aleksandr Sokurov’s tetralogy. In September, this intellectual film triumphed at the Venice Film Festival and was awarded its top prize. Having straight away become a sensation, it is now sold like hot cakes.
According to Russian film critic Anton Dolin, Sokurov seemed unable to ever come out from among the festival’s outsiders, even though all of his brilliant movies have always existed as self-sufficient masterpieces. And now, all of a sudden, his final work proved to be overwhelmingly important for others as well. Small wonder, given that it involved filmmakers from 38 countries, says Dolin"
"The film was made at a high artistic level; it is distinctive and does not look like anything else, although shot in Hollywood by French cameramen in the German language. In other words, this is a global international project that has nothing to do with esoteric Russian cinema focusing on domestic realities alone and therefore incomprehensible to foreigners. This is another tremendous advantage of Faust," Anton Dolin explains.
Faust as a character is not a “monopoly” of great Johann Wolfgang von Goethe or the German culture. Since the late 16th century, this real historical figure appeared in a number of popular European puppet shows narrating the life of a warlock who sold his soul to the devil in exchange for special magical powers and abilities. Folk songs about Faust were sung in Germany, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands, with English playwright Christopher Marlowe writing the first Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus. This is a large-scale epic character of the world culture, Alexander Sokurov believes, saying that it was very interesting for him to transfer him from mythology to person:
"My challenge is to show Faust as a human being to people. Goethe only needed him to share some informative and global views, such as whether a person is able to commit evil deeds himself, without being pushed by someone else. Today we realize that even the Satan himself cannot commit anything as terrible as people do," says Alexander Sokurov.
The director’s viewpoint is mostly shared by his colleague Andrei Zvyagintsev in his latest film Elena. Circumstances can make anyone capable of doing evil - even a dovelike old woman who kills her wealthy husband to provide material assistance to her first marriage children. This movie arrived at the London festival in the status of a Cannes prizewinner, having conquered its Special View nomination. The most interesting thing is that Elena, being an auteur cinema sample, is quite popular in both Russia and the 45 countries that bought the right to show it publicly.