“Whispering Pages” is Mr. Sokurov’s haunting black-and-white meditation on themes from 19th-century Russian literature, most conspicuously “Crime and Punishment.” There is a murderer, the Raskolnikov character, who lives in a hovel and wanders the banks of a river. There is a woman, the holy prostitute figure. She becomes the focus of he murderer’s philosophical questions about life, guilt and God, phrased in the film’s sparse dialogue. Mostly there is extraordinary photography, a palette of dusty gray tones that echo the faded look of 19th-century photographs.
As in his features (like “The Second Circle,” and “Save and Protect,” a version of "Madame Bovary), Mr. Sokurov’s camera moves languorously, as if it were caressing each building, statue and person in its path. Some characters meet in a noisy, cavernlike dining room; others leap off a bridge into the river. For 77 minutes, “Whispering Pages” creates a meeting place where Dostoyevsky, the viewer’s awareness of his themes, and Mr. Sokurov’s interpretation can mingle. —New York Times
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
There is a certain Dickensian quality to Aleksandr Sokurov's WHISPERING PAGES, a film based on the work of Fyodor Dostoevsky, which follows a murderer through the streets of a Russian city, and a virtuous prostitute. Sokurov's films are like moving paintings - the hazy, washed out colors, slowly draining away into full black and white, create a haunting and evocative atmosphere.