Confession

Alexander Sokurov's melancholy 1998 video is set aboard a naval vessel in the Murmansk region of the Russian Arctic, a bleak world where sailors endlessly wash the ship and themselves and venture onto snow-covered rock to visit tiny settlements of old buildings. The story unfolds through the diary of the ship's captain, who seems to be gay but fails to act on his desires; surrounded by the shirtless youths he commands, he's unable to change or even see outside himself. Sokurov's cramped images have a rare beauty, expressing the captain's self-absorption; they seem ready to collapse on themselves, and even an open fire at night seems hemmed in by dark. Confession originally ran 260 minutes, but Sokurov has since trimmed it to 218. In Russian with subtitles.

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