The Cinema of Alexander Sokurov

Figures of Paradox

Jeremi Szaniawski

Wallflower Press

The Cinema of Alexander Sokurov

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Pub Date: February 2014

ISBN: 9780231167352

256 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $25.00£20.00

Pub Date: February 2014

ISBN: 9780231167345

256 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $75.00£58.00

Pub Date: February 2014

ISBN: 9780231850520

256 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $24.99£20.00

The Cinema of Alexander Sokurov

Figures of Paradox

Jeremi Szaniawski

Wallflower Press

One of the last representatives of a brand of serious, high-art cinema, Alexander Sokurov has produced a massive oeuvre exploring issues such as history, power, memory, kinship, death, the human soul, and the responsibility of the artist. Through contextualization and close readings of each of his feature fiction films (broaching many of his documentaries in the process), this volume unearths a vision of Sokurov's films as equally mournful and passionate, intellectual, and sensual, and also identifies in them a powerful, if discursively repressed, queer sensitivity, alongside a pattern of tensions and paradoxes. This book thus offers new keys to understand the lasting and ever-renewed appeal of the Russian director's Janus-like and surprisingly dynamic cinema – a deeply original and complex body of work in dialogue with the past, the present and the future.
Sokurov's work is prodigious, historically fundamental, formally path-breaking, and at the same time virtually unknown in the West. Certainly it needs a popular general introduction, but it is rare for so thorough a volume as this by Jeremi Szaniawski to offer so thought-provoking and novel an interpretation at one and the same time. His proposal to sort Sokurov's production into cycles is extraordinarily helpful, while his technical commentaries on these films will be indispensable to the layman. This exciting book is a marker with which all future students of Sokurov will have to come to terms; its accounts of cultural, political and literary contexts will be as illuminating to the non-specialist reader as its history of production will for film studies. Fredric Jameson, Duke University
Like all serious criticism, Jeremi Szaniawski's book is a universe unto itself: wise, learned, a sustained dream of the films it sees so well. Alexander Nemerov, Stanford University
[Szaniawski's] book, not aimed solely at those familiar with Sokurov's work, is full of observations even the most diligent viewer could miss. Szaniawski warns that Sokurov's films, complex in their imagery and symbolism, can seem tedious, but he writes about them engagingly, analysing them in great detail. Anna Aslanyan, Times Literary Supplement
Alexandr Sokurov... is arguably the most important and most prolific Russian director working today, so this volume is a welcome addition to the literature about this famously complex filmmaker and his films. Denise J. Youngblood, University of Vermont, Russian Review
Szaniawski's truly remarkable monograph… is brilliant, highly recommended… cleverly divining the right key to enter the world of one of the most fascinating (if sometimes "difficult") filmmakers around. Senses of Cinema
Acknowledgements
Preface
Introduction: The Fragment and the Infinite, or, the Hypothesis of the Third Term in the Cinema of Alexander Sokurov
1. Lonely Voice of Man: Singular Murmurs, Multiple Echoes
2. Mournful Insensitivity: The Apocalypse of the Modern
3. Days of the Eclipse: 'Adieu, Babylone'; Adieu, Tarkovsky
4. Save and Protect: Of Angels and Flies
5. The Second Circle: Winter, Light, and the Intimate Sublime
6. The Stone: No Way Home
7. Whispering Pages: Death, Nothingness, Memory
8. Mother and Son: Time Abolished, Time Transfigured
9. Moloch: Adi (and Eve): Fear Eats the Soul
10. Taurus: 'Father, where art thou?'
11. Russian Ark: Imperial Elegy
12. Father and Son: Beyond Absolute Intimacy
13. The Sun: Iconoclastic Humanism
14. Alexandra: The Return to Neverwas and the Ambiguity of Romance
15. Faust: Sokurov Waltz
Postscript On the Poetics of Space in Sokurov's Tetralogy (Moloch/Taurus/The Sun/Faust)
Conclusion
Postface
Addendum A: interview with Alexander Sokurov, 2005
Addendum B: interview with Alexander Sokurov, 2013
Filmography
Bibliography
Index

About the Author

Jeremi Szaniawski holds a PhD from Yale University, and is an award-winning independent filmmaker living and working in Los Angeles. He is also coeditor of Directory of World Cinema: Belgium (2013).