Molokh (1999)

Discussion in 'Archive' started by llanes13, Nov 10, 2008.

  1. llanes13

    llanes13 Guest



    Rating: 6.5/10
    Runtime: 108
    Language: German
    Country: Russia | Germany | Japan | Italy | France
    Color: Color

    Director: Alexander Sokurov
    Yelena Rufanova ... Eva Braun
    Leonid Mozgovoy ... Adolf Hitler
    Leonid Sokol ... Dr. Josef Goebbels
    Yelena Spiridonova ... Magda Goebbels
    Vladimir Bogdanov ... Martin Bormann
    Anatoli Shvedersky ... Priest

    Description: In 1942, in Bavaria, Eva Braun (Yelena Rufanova) is alone, when Adolf Hitler (Leonid Mozgovoy) arrives with Dr. Josef Goebbels (Leonid Sokol) and his wife Magda Goebbels (Yelena Spiridonova) and Martin Bormann (Vladimir Bogdanov) to spend a couple of days without talking politics.

    The arrival of Aleksandr Sokurov's Mat' i syn (Mother and Son, 1997) on the international festival circuit was one of the cinematic highlights of 1998; the one-time Russian dissident film-maker - and protégé of Andrei Tarkovsky - had arrived triumphantly on the world's screens.

    Praise for the film, "difficult" even by Art Cinema standards, was plentiful and as much from other film-makers as from critics. Musician Nick Cave's confessional piece "I Wept and Wept, from Start to Finish" (The Independent on Sunday, London, 29 March 1998) lent street kudos to the film and it was widely seen and discussed.

    The anticipation that greeted Sokurov's subsequent film - Moloch (1999) - still doing the rounds on the international film festivals - soon gave way to bafflement. News of the film's subject matter - Adolf Hitler - had given rise to the suggestion that Sokurov would present a meditation on European fascism from the dying moments of the century of fascism and the first full century of film. Moloch precipitated hopes of a study of the actual figure of Hitler and what drove him to such evil (characters are rarely more "present" than in Sokurov's films), a "meta-history" of the type identified in Mat' i syn and a film with mythic considerations (the term "Moloch" refers to a deity found in several ancient cultures - Greek, Israeli, Cathari - associated with the sacrifice of children.) Perhaps, Moloch would present the antidote to recent Hollywood excursions into this territory.

    Defying all expectations, Sokurov's Hitler, a neurotic and hypochondriac, spends the majority of his screen time moaning about his health. His coterie consists of the enigmatic (Eva Braun) and the clownish (Martin Boormann) - only Dr Josef Goebbels (seen at one point privately screening propaganda films) seems to possess intelligence. The decor recalls the camp Nazi paraphernalia of Liliana Cavani's Il portiere di notte (The Night Porter, 1974), the murky internal scenes seem, at times, to be shot through a drained fish-tank and the setting, the Führer's Alpine retreat in Berchtesgaden during the late spring of 1942, seems almost incidental.

    The reaction at the Cannes premiere and in the press was overwhelmingly negative. It seemed as if Sokurov (and his screenwriters, Yuri Aarabov and Marina Koreneva) had fallen foul of the usual problems of the representation of Fascism by European auteurs, such as Bernardo Bertolucci in Novecento (1976), Luchino Visconti in La Caduta degli Dei (The Damned, 1969) or Federico Fellini in Amarcord (1973), by resorting to caricature and the grotesque to visualise the nature of evil.

    In the midst of this unreality, Hitler-as-man is defiantly presented, a countercurrent to the kind of postmodern reading of Hitler-as-historical-figure expressed in Don DeLillo's novel White Noise (1985). However, Hitler's obsessions with defecation, his inane on-screen musings - at one point that Finnish people are all stupid because of the long periods of darkness they must endure and that Czech people have down-turned moustaches because of their lineage with the Mongolians - and even the concentration he pays to his soup, reduce this figure too to clownishness.

    After the film's reception in Cannes and at the London Film Festival, Sokurov was lumped in with Peter Greenaway as an auteur given to wilful mystification on screen, the courting of controversy (at one point, Hitler claims sincere ignorance of Auschwitz) and convoluted utterances in interviews and at press conferences. He could only add to his notoriety when he rejected the Grand Prix awarded to Moloch at the Sochi Film Festival in protest against the other winning films. (Benjamin Halligan, Central Europe Review)

    English subs

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