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Sunday, June 1, 2008

SPIRITUAL VOICES (1995)

As with Aleksandr Sokurov ’s similarly paired MOTHER & SON and FATHER & SON, I also prefer the less acclaimed CONFESSION/POVINNOST, which is something of a shipboard companion piece to this earlier military diary film. Based on a numbing visit to the Tajikistan-Afghanistan border during the long, fruitless Russian mission there, Sokurov doesn’t make things easy for us. Episode 1 is a 37 minute shot of a windswept mountain terrain with a diagonal treeline, only twice interrupted by brief clips of sleeping soldiers. And the voice-over track (what there is of it) is all about Mozart, Messiaen & Beethoven. The four remaining entries show somewhat more conventional footage of the painfully remote, hopelessly isolated, miserably pointless doings in that vast, empty part of the world, but Sokurov’s organization has none of the inevitability that draws you into the later naval diary. One priceless moment during a sniper attack. Junior to officer: "Sir, Cook says the dough has risen. What should he do?" Young officer: "Bake the bread." That’s war for you.

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