Alexander Sokurov’s “Faust”

If an oil painting by a great master were placed in a furnace and allowed to slowly melt over a low heat, subtly evolving from a complex, meticulously ordered structure to a crude, naturalistic mess– human actions breaking bonds of self-restraint, human forms warping in the heat into unrecognizable shapes, human emotions reflected in melted puddles of their own ambition– you would have Alexander Sokurov’s Faust.

Alexander Sokurov’s Faust is a stunning film, visually and psychologically.”Stunning”, not in the sense of beautiful. “Stunning” in the sense of temporary paralysis before a sight that can be disturbing, alluring, or touching, but is above all– honest.

The entire film is shot through a color filter that lends it a faded tone, tending towards blues and greys and very, very stark whites. In real life, these are color schemes limited to early mornings and rainy afternoons– times that are comfortable and quiet and tend to lull rather than lure.

So when, the lull breaks and a bit of the hellish looking-glass world becomes apparent, it’s a jolting experience. One that you relive constantly while watching this film and find yourself expecting but never quite prepared for.

I saw it at a film premiere in Moscow “Khudozhestveniy” (Arts) Theatre. Sokurov was there himself. He spoke briefly and unemotionally before the lights went out and the film started to roll.

Highly recommended.

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