I really can't stand and can't get German's style. My cartesian brain blocks. 3rd film i watch, 3rd time i don't have any clue what's going on, who is who, why they say this and that and act like that. I kinda like surrealism so it must be shtg else. I really don't get it.
An unconventional and perspective of Stalinist era USSR lacking any overt statist fear. Hints of a socialist society are apparent in the rich environment German creates. The cinematography adds to this, and at times has a compelling intimacy. Yet the plot is continually meanders, but never reaches a point. No comment is made on the Stalinist era or Soviet society in general. Both are just flatly presented.
German's inescapable inclusionary style, rather than conventional narrative exclusions of marginalia, allows the secondary their prominence. While overwhelming to decypher the abundant and elusively receding points of "life," only clear-headed Ivan comprehends societal structures. By this ability, German positions Ivan even above audience comprehension, instilling an incredible belief in him by film's end. Masterful!
Camera and sound go every which way but the usual ones, with any dialogue that could potentially focus the film into a narrative overridden by surrounding din and key characters frequently obscured, if not ignored altogether as German's camera eye wanders to trivial matters. That giving spirit lends a tone of realism belied by the dry visual wit that frequently spins the film into ironic, but human, realms
This film is, in my humble opinion, the single most successful motion picture I have ever seen. I see it every time it comes to town and it is like visiting an old friend again and again. I first saw it in 1995, days before shooting my thesis film, and you can see its influences on me even then. To me, this is perfection in filmmaking. It is everything I need in a film. And it makes me happy just knowing it exists.