Co-directed by Aleksandr Sokurov and Semyon Aranovich, Dmitri Shostakovich: Viola Sonata is an emotionally lucid, understated, textural, and reverent biography of the highly influential, Soviet-era composer and pianist, Dmitri Dmitrievich Shostakovich. Using allusive, recurring imagery of a photograph of a young, physically fragile Shostakovich resting on his mother’s lap and a delirious shot of an amusement park turntable-like merry-go-round spinning ever increasingly faster as people struggle to hold on, the film traces the life of a proud national and complex artist through personal documents, recorded appearances, and public performances of his work juxtaposed against historical footage of everyday existence in the Soviet Union. Embodying a life experience that evolved from early critical acclaim to political and public disfavor under Stalinist Russia to re-evaluated celebration of his body of work in contemporary Soviet Union (culminating in his acceptance of the second Order of Lenin ever awarded after Shostakovich graciously removed his name from consideration a year earlier in order to enable the first Order of Lenin to be posthumously awarded to Igor Stravinsky), Sokurov and Aranovich capture the venerated composer’s passion and uncompromising creative integrity as he sought to cultivate art appreciation for the masses and consequently, elevated the cultural heritage and legacy of the Russian people. —Rottentomatoes.com
After military studies was Semyon Aranovich working for two years in the Maritime Aviation. At that time he also begun working as director in various studios. Since 1971 he’s been the director in Lenfilm Studio. He has been awarded with the Soviet Union State in 1986. —Seagull Films
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