The Cinema of Alexander Sokurov: Figures of Paradox

The Cinema of Alexander Sokurov: Figures of Paradox

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by Jeremi Szaniawski
     
 

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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

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Overview

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.

Editorial Reviews

Fredric Jameson
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.

Times Literary Supplement - Anna Aslanyan
[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.

Alexander Nemerov
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.

Russian Review - Denise J. Youngblood
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.

Senses of Cinema
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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780231850520
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
Publication date:
11/22/2013
Series:
Directors' Cuts
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
256
File size:
23 MB
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Meet 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).

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The Cinema of Alexander Sokurov: Figures of Paradox 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
thegrooch More than 1 year ago
This is an important study of the man who is probably the best film maker alive in the world today. I took an instant dislike, however, to the author’s writing style. It is turgid, muddy, pompous, full of multisyllabic noun forms, while at the same time replete with juvenile neologism like pastness, televisual, narratological, dynamised… The best part of the book is the last sections where Sokurov, in interviews, is allowed to speak for himself. He says, for instance, “It’s only noodles. Don’t go too deep into it.” The author could have profited by this advice. Then we would have had a much shorter and better book.