A recently qualified medical doctor, Dmitri Malyanov, has taken a posting to a remote and very poor part of Soviet Turkmenistan. On top of his day job as a paediatrician Malyanov is undertaking research into the effects of religious practice on human health. His research has drawn the politically incorrect conclusion that religious faith does indeed improve health. However, as he attempts to write up his thesis various sorts of improbable, bizarre events take place one after another. Malyanov perceives that some force is preventing a him from completing his research.
In the novel, the protagonist who works on research in astrophysics is similarly confounded by a mysterious force trying to interfere and impede the research. In the film adaptation it is replaced by the ubiquitous fear that Soviet citizens had of saying or doing anything that contradicted official government policy.
In a half-documentary manner, where black-and-white frames are mixed with color, Sokurov pictured the life of wretched town in Turkmenia, sick children, psychiatric clinic and the Desert, which is populated with a mix of sounds in the background – radio retranslations, symphonic music and multilingual voices.
Long monologues of the characters; boy-angel, who asks non-childish questions and, finally, in the end of the film, the Ascension of the Malyanov’s guardian angel. —Wikipedia
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