Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Tonight I watched an interesting Russian film, Alexandra, by director Alexander Sohurov. In this slow, but touching, film an elderly grandmother visits her officer grandson at his remote base in the Caucasus Mountains (Chechnya, I think), a dusty patch of frontier in a troubled corner of the Russian empire. She is a tough lady, who wants to see what is going on and even leaves the base by herself at one point to go to the nearby market, where she interacts with some of the local population. In many ways she is a typical matron, criticizing her grandson's appearance and lack of wife, notices his work feet and scraped knuckles (from disciplining a soldier) but she also is never dainty or restrained from doing what she wants to do. The film seems to be making judgments about the war through her eyes and experiences: the youthfulness of the troops, the tough discipline, the poor equipment and supplies. The men, for the most part, are amazed and smitten by the presence of the old lady at their base, and treat her with respect and almost a longing for their own families. There may be a bit of a message about the destruction the Russians have laid upon the region, but it is not heavy handed. The film, instead, tries to (I think) focus on the humantiy of all people, that despite differences, individuals can get along. If you are looking for an upbeat, action-packed thriller, this movie is not for you, but it is interesting and worthwhile. Obvioulsy much of the subtleness is lost on me, as I don't speak Russian, but I think I understood the movie fairly well.