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Film Critics: Today, December 13, winners from Dallas ForthWorthFCA, ChicagoFCA and Film Comment Magazine. Nominations from HoustonFCS, PhoenixCC. PhoenixFCS.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Отец и сын -Otets i syn (Father and Son)


I’m going to be honest with you all and tell that I had no clear idea what this movie was about until I started to read about it. I believe that the amazing opening scenes totally confused me as those scenes are so strong that you cannot see any father and son love, but two men in love and from then on you still see the same. Obviously that is not Aleksandr Sokurov intention, but it is truly hard not to see exactly what you’re seeing in the screen.

So with the help of what I read here is an outline of the story that basically is about the time when a father and his son have to part to go their own ways and since they have been living together for so many years after the mother died, the separation is a true drama told in the most poetic way, with very little but important dialogue, outstandingly beautiful camera close-ups that totally expose actors expressions of what they are feeling and with astonishing visuals that totally play with light and a brownish-sepia color that just looks outstandingly superb. Even when I was having a hard time grasping the story, the imagines hypnotize me and I could get my eyes one second from the screen.

But to be clearer I’m going to reproduce here Sukorov's preface to this movie that speaks about the story. I know that this unusual, but if you want to see this movie, I believe that you better read about the story before watching the movie.

The story of the family

A small family — a father and a son — lives on the top floor of an old house.

The father retired from the military, leaving his beloved air regiment. He ended his military career not of his own wishes — circumstances forced him to. A former participant in military actions, now he has been transferred to the reserve as he begins middle age. When he was a student in flight school, he experienced the first and the only love of his life. This girl became his wife and she gave birth to his son. Both of them were twenty years old then. The wife died when she was young. This love remained his secret unique happiness.

The son grew up, and he will probably be a military man like his father. The son's features constantly remind the father of his wife. He doesn't separate his son from his still persisting love: this is his unity with his beloved woman. The father cannot imagine his life without his son. The son loves his father devotedly and deeply, a filial feeling intensified by an instinctive moral responsibility that is being tested by life. Their love is almost of mythological virtue and scale. It cannot happen in real life. This is a fairy-tale collision.

Actors’ performances are more than superb and I felt they have an air of acting for the stage but it flows like a movie, so it does not bother at all, it makes it even more interesting. Both performers are non-actors and honestly you cannot tell at all as especially the father is not only a fantastic performer, but also the takes and the lighting that Sokurov uses in his scenes makes him look extremely handsome and attractive.

Cinematography is breathtaking and not for landscapes but for the aura and mood that gives to the whole movie, but what I found absolute amazing is the lighting, Sukorov really plays with light in this movie and produces amazing visual poetry. Outstanding! Then what really blew my mind was to discover that the outdoor takes were done in Lisbon, as knowing that he’s a Saint Petersburg filmmaker I imagined that was somewhere in that city, besides the takes are flawlessly integrated that unless you have been in that specific street in Lisbon, I imagine you cannot guess the actual location. Still, you’re so engrossed into watching everything (and me guessing what was going on) that it is truly non-important where the location was. This is a movie where you follow the actors with their amazing performance.

The movie was in competition for the Palm D’or at the 2003 Cannes where won the FIPRESCI Prize with a jury statement that says: For brilliant images and the director's original way of depicting the powerful bond that unites a father and a son.

This 2003 movie is the second of a family trilogy that starts with 1996 Mother and Son and will end with Two Brothers and a Sister that Sokurov has not filmed yet.

Absolutely not for all audiences, this masterpiece is truly art cinema with amazing visual poetry in almost all the movie scenes. So you really have to like art cinema to enjoy this movie that I strongly recommend to all serious cinema lovers.

I feel sorry that I didn’t watch first Mother and Son, but soon I’ll be watching the first Sokurov oeuvre of the family trilogy that has to be as amazing as this movie that I absolutely loved.

Big Enjoy!!!

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