Five-Hour-Plus, Five-Chapter Alexander Sokurov Documentary

What a world—this five-hour-plus, five-chapter Alexander Sokurov documentary never had a chance at theatrical distribution even in Europe, but thanks to digital technology, you can already buy this double DVD on Amazon for less than 30 bucks. In 1994, Sokurov took his magic-hour video camera to the Tajikistan-Afghanistan border with a Russian army company and came away with one of the dreamiest, most affecting war films ever made. Establishing a hardcore intimacy with both the stunned, weary soldiers and the prehistoric landscape, the filmmaker also narrates in modest first person, while the amber-puce-ash monotone visuals undergo cosmic post-production transformations. (The slow dissolves, in which one swatch of formidable terrain seems to arise ghost-like from another, feel like a god shifting his weight.) This is what they commission for post-Soviet TV? Facets is also releasing Sokurov's Confession (1998), a similarly toned, three-and-a-half-hour fictionalized meditation on life aboard an Arctic naval ship, pensively decked out with some of the oddest visions of edge-of-the-map industrialization ever captured. Prizes include shorts edited down from the larger works, and CD-ROM "digital booklets."

 
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