Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actor: Galina Vishnevskaya
Director: Alexander Sokurov
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
In a desolate, sun-scorched corner of the world, an elderly woman has come to see her beloved grandson, a young officer stationed at a remote military outpost. With the enemy just beyond the compound, she wanders the barra... more »
Aesthetics of the spirit.
Ted Byrd | 06/28/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"To this reviewer, "Alexandra" is a truly beautiful film. But its beauty isn't expressed by scenery, music, costumes, or even(in my opinion) by the cinematography.
The acting was brilliant, in that it was that sort of non-professional acting that succeeds in being genuine and profound through its very naivete. Only Galina Vishnevskaya, who played the lead role is an actress of note in Russia.
There are no glamorous people in this story. Alexandra Nikolaevna, a portly widowed grandmother with weak legs, undertakes an arduous journey to visit her grandson, a soldier in a remote area where the Russian army is trying to suppress a rebellion by a Caucasian ethnic group. The ugly, dusty camp in which she arrives appears to be bleached of color by the stifling heat. The occupying Russian soldiers and the inhabitants of the countryside alike have been dehumanized by the long and bloody conflict.
Alexandra Nikolaevna is no saint. She is rather crusty and does her share of complaining and criticizing, as well as groaning. But she is a woman of compassion and empathy for others, and she is filled with love and pride for her warrior grandson. Her presence in the camp elicits a wistful, somewhat grudging remembrance from these uncouth, brutalized soldiers that there are still finer sentiments buried within them.
She has come to see exactly what it is that her grandson is experiencing, and to try and comprehend the real meaning behind it. Her shrewd grandmother's eye sees things not in political terms, but in very elemental human ones. She is persistent in her investigations of the matter, even to the point of leaving the camp to visit the marketplace of the rebel town. Here her empathy for fellow humanity is unable to break down the animosity of the younger populace, but she establishes a bond with the elderly women of the town.
The beauty that is manifested in this film comes from those remarkable scenes in which this simple(but determined!) grandmother, who represents the nurturing human qualities of compassion and mutual respect,forms a rapport of understanding with the wide range of people she comes into contact with. The vulnerability and poverty of soldiers and civilians alike will be jolting to the sensibilities of Americans, who have been conditioned to think they should be protected from such hardships.
The idea of an elderly woman traveling to an area of armed conflict to visit a relative could not be tolerated in our society, where we must all be regulated and shielded, even from our own desires. This is not to say that one way is better than the other, but this film will definitely expose you to a different worldview. In all honesty, I suspect that the vast majority of movie-watchers would find this story to be dull, pointless, and oppressive. But, if we were stripped of our conveniences and our entertainment gadgetry by war and poverty, we could only hope that such a tempering grandmotherly influence might intervene to appeal to our better natures."
A warmth gaze about the war!
Hiram Gomez Pardo | Valencia, Venezuela | 08/02/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Alexander Sokurov has demonstrated to have inherited the priceless coronet among the most genuine distinctive and fervent spiritual followers of Andrei Tarkovsky.
This sharp, reflexive and inventive metaphor deals with the visit that Aleksandra Nikolaevna makes to her grandson, one of the best officers of his unity. She travels there to live together with that masculine universe, in which there are no women, no comfort, no tenderness. The life is meaningless and everyone jealously hides it from the others. There is military proud, desire to be recognized in that well apart place, where neither of the members of that little village appreciate them. Maybe there's no energy or even time for the feelings, being the authority, discipline and obedience are only the elements which formally has to be kept in mind for the rest of the trop. Everyday, every hour, everything debates between life and death. However, she sparks a light of hope, humanity and transcendental signification for the human being, because before nothing it` s a community where there are persons.
A poignant film that care and beautifully undertakes its warmth poetry before our eyes from start to finish.
Don't miss this brilliant jewel of the cinema.
J. Anderson | Monterey, CA USA | 12/27/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Sokurov's work is always worth watching (Elegy of the Land, Russian Ark, and Spiritual Voices spring joyfully to mind), but of them all surely Alexandra stands a perfect work of collaborative genius. The great attraction for me was getting the gifts of Galina Vishnevskaya in the role of a lifetime. Her own life has been profounder than an opera role; &she's an actor of pungent means by an instinctive, interior passion rarely enough found. Her acutenese makes the camera itself meaningless in the end. Her performance as Alexandra reveals a character by a kind of ecstatic stasis, detailed with subtleties impossible to catalog, and likely unforgettable. She creates with myriad near-psychic details, gestures, glances, aided by a consummately naked script, &the culminating effect lodges in mind and heart with real anguish. There's little to add to Ted Byrd's review; comments richly insightful. This is filmmaking we don't get from Hollywood; art made from suffering is the difference that defines. A brilliant anti-war film, yes, and more, in work this truthful, and beautiful, the war policies of American profiteers find a perfect antidote. It's a film experience cherishible, recommended with urgency."
Paul E. Richardson | Montpelier, VT | 06/12/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"There is a plodding self-absorption to Sokurov's films that can make them impenetrable or, at times, maddening. That said, there are surely many fans of his art - he counts 17 films and twice as many documentaries.
The story line for Alexandra is simple: Alexandra Nikolayevna (Galina Vishnevskaya) goes to visit her grandson, a captain serving in Chechnya. She stays in the military compound, roams the tents, observes life among the troops, wanders to the market, befriends a Chechen woman, and in general witnesses the alien, emotionless life of the Russian military. Exhausted and demoralized, she departs for home as her son heads off on another mop-up operation.
Sokurov's laconic, realist style is well-suited to this tale, where everything seems to be brown or dusty green, where nothing much happens, though we sense that somewhere near, just beyond the range of the camera, something soon will. Alexandra wants something better, wants to live near her son, to be at peace. She will attain none of this, but she will have a brief time of tenderness with her grandson.
Filmed inside Chechnya under siege-like conditions, Alexandra is a striking film. Though the overt, spoken anti-war statements come across as trite and forced, this is overshadowed by powerful visuals. And Vishnevskaya (widow of Mstislav Rostropovich) is superb as the tired Alexandra, endearing with her ceaseless mumblings, forgetfulness and deeply feeling heart. (As reviewed in Russian Life)"