"I remember oatmeal with soup, tea, little rolls in the shape of larks, with raisins instead of eyes... I remember smoked salmon, grouse, baked ham with a poached egg, a red cabbage salad, pancakes with raisin, blini with sour cream, caviar, jam, cold pork, with a sprig of parsley". Saudade invernal de un fantasma que susurra. Ah, la niebla, el frío de la memoria.
This film will infuriate many for although it involves a meeting with Chekhov it contains characters who don't talk in that Chekhovian manner but inhabit the scenes like figures stuck in a silent film, one that lingers longer than even the most primitive of early cinema. However, if you think of these inky b&w static shots as objects of contemplation it resembles a C. D. Friedrichs painting put on film.
Sokurov crafts yet another seemingly intractable film and the Cinema Guild DVD comes with great commentary from James Quandt which helps a lot in making sense out of this picture. It reminds me of THE SECOND CIRCLE, another fine film Sokurov directed around the same time.