Inspired by Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, Sokurov’s Save and Protect recalls the most crucial events of Emma’s decline and fall: affairs with the aristocratic Rodolphe and the student Leon, the humiliation that follows her husband’s botching of the operation on the stable boy’s clubfoot. The universality of the theme of eternal struggle between the soul and the flesh is conveyed through the absence of specific reference to time or place: although the film seems to begin in 1840, its surreal mode effortlessly accommodates an automobile and the strains of “When the Saints Go Marching In” on an off-screen radio. Focusing on passion from a woman’s perspective and downplaying plot, Sokurov explores his subject in exquisite detail, capturing not only the heat of passion but also the quiet moments before and after and the innocent sensuousness of the body. —Harvard Film Archive
One of the most important directors in both Russian and world cinema, Alexander Sokurov is considered by many to be the spiritual heir of the great Andrei Tarkovsky. Sokurov — who has enjoyed a long creative relationship with Tarkovsky — has discounted such comparisons, but certain similarities between their works remain indelible: a predilection towards very long takes, natural performances by their actors, and an almost otherworldly use of natural sounds and music. And, perhaps most important, both directors are concerned with the essential questions of human existence and the state of the human spirit.
Sokurov was the son of a World War II veteran. His family moved around a good deal while Sokurov was growing up, and after finishing high school, he went to Gorki, Russia’s third largest city. There, he attended Gorki University and began to work as an assistant television director when he was 19. He continued to direct television programs for the Gorki station until 1975, and… read more