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Monday, August 8, 2011

SOLNTSE / THE SUN (2005)

After meditating on Hitler’s countryside retreat in MOLOCH/’99 and Lenin’s fragile health in TAURUS/’01, Alexander Sokurov looks at Emperor Hirohito’s last days as a God. The Americans are all but knocking on the door when the film opens, but Hirohito sticks to his routine and his formal life style . . . even in a bunker. There are cabinet members to meet with, scientific hobbies to parse, a letter that’s waiting to be written to his eldest son and lunch. All have their proper place in his schedule. But after a dream of destruction, Hirohito is politely, but awkwardly called upon by the Americans to meet with General Douglas MacArthur. Only then, after figuring out how to open a door by one’s self, does Hirohito start to feel an odd sense of relief at the thought of losing his divinity. THE SUN is, apparently (see below), the most conventional of Sokurov’s investigations into the loss of absolute power by three 20th Century rulers, which makes it sound like an obvious entry point into his film world. But it misses the dream-logic of his best work, playing out like the world’s slowest moving History Channel special. And for all its meticulous reconstruction of historical incident, it gives way to easy point-scoring against the occupying American forces. Particularly with its unconvincing portrait of General MacArthur as a rube, even if he never pulls out his iconic corncob pipe. This General smokes Cuban cigars.

WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: Brave souls should try MOLOCH/'99 for Sokurov at full force. And let us know if you can lay your hands on TAURUS which remains on a MAKSQUIBS wish-list.

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