Using a spectacular staging of the artworks, reconstitution, archives, testimonies, the film explores the question of relations between art and power, what art tells us about ourselves even in the midst of one of the bloodiest conflicts the world had ever seen.
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The ability to work on images and sounds and to reverberate these over and under those is not lost and is, obviously, one of Sokurov's many talents. It turns out that in this beautiful project his system is something crystallized, not exactly as a commonplace but less transformative than is his usual, with a sort of loss in so much dispersion of points of view. However, an exercise of an acutely intelligence.
Sokurov here is very much operating as a poet more than a documentarian or an essayist, much to the benefit of any viewer willing to cooperate. How is it like poetry? It is totally compressed and clear in a way that is unclear. It has localized its historical zones of interest and circles them warily, feeling its way around w/ its manifold senses. A film w/ a clear mission that nonetheless has to discover what it is.
An immediate exercise for a director like Sokurov. Nonetheless, the radiant strings hold by the images permit the leak of a near-unfathomable theme: the faustian (western) obsession for the destiny in the horizon-like dimension, against the stoic (eastern) acceptance of immanence. Hence the difficulty to shape an acceptable body work (and that’s why Sans Soleil is SO great).
a towering work - the anti-histoire(s) du cinema. that film fed myths back to us, now is the time to stamp those on our heels. forget the myths of the french resistance, show us vichy france instead, and so we see the repercussions of images, or rather no of images, and we see how susceptible we are when history is erased. what's worse than propaganda? removal entirely
I usually like Sokurov, and as an art historian I know how crucial Jaujard and Wolff-Metternich were to the Louvre during the occupation, but this was dull and gimmicky, like a lame reenactment on The History Channel.
Worked so well for me as an oneiric soporific that it took me a while to register the creeping disappointment of its political and art-historical critique. At one point I found myself murmuring "Mo ... Napoleon ... Mona ... Poleon" several times before I finally cringed and wiped the drool from my chin. I swear.
[REVIEW] Francofonia (Aleksandr Sokurov, Russia)
Edited in his poetic style, the film crosses between beatific images and a resonant soundtrack which is frustratingly... For this reason, while underwhelming as a whole, Francofonia is merely lesser work by a masterful director; in other words, it is still great.
FNC '15 A strange hybrid of docudrama, essay film and experimental tome from master director Sokurov. Centered on the Louvre during the German occupation the film also considers the fragility of art in war; the history of art plundering; and the legacy of certain historical figures. Less successful though aurally interesting is the framing device of a container ship that in the end is forgotten...even by the film.