Arguably Guerman’s most visually stunning, wildly provocative work, this fever-dream meditation on the crazed final days of Stalin’s regime was a cause célèbre of the 1998 Cannes and New York film festivals. Based on a Joseph Brodsky story, the film takes off from the infamous “Doctor’s Plot,” in which a group of predominately Jewish Moscow doctors were fingered as members of a conspiracy to assassinate Soviet leaders. Yuri Glinshi, Red Army general as well as famous brain surgeon, is sent to the Gulag after an anti-semitic purge, then freed in a final effort to save the “People’s Little Father” from his date with destiny. Guerman creates a consistently amazing visual and aural rendition of the charged atmosphere of those sad times, in which no point of view is ever fixed, nor any shadow devoid of possible danger, nor any stray remark free from potentially lethal consequences. —Film Society of Lincoln Center
Aleksei Yuryevich German (in Russian: Алексей Юрьевич Герман) (born on June 20, 1938) is a Soviet and Russian filmmaker, most active as a director and screenwriter. His last name is pronounced with a hard “g” and in English is frequently spelled Guerman or Gherman to avoid confusion.
Almost all of German’s films have been set during the Stalin era and have shown the time period in a critical light. His films, shot mostly in black and white or very muted color, have a distinctive “murky” look and are often described as looking “aged.”
His son, a film director, is also named Aleksei German.
German was born in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg, Russia) in 1938; his father was the writer Yuri German. He studied under Grigori Kozintsev until 1960, and then moved on to working in theatre before joining the Lenfilm studio as an assistant director. He made his directing debut with Sedmoy Sputnik, co-directed with Grigory Aronov in 1967. Over the course of his career, many of… read more
An original and brilliantly shot film. Although confusing with its many details and fast paced scenes, it remains a master piece and a must see for cinephiles and russophiles alike.
War and Remembrance: The Films of Aleksei Guerman is “among the most important retrospectives in years.”
The Russian maverick has passed away at 74. From our archives, coverage of his 2012 NYC retrospective.