Elegy of a Voyage

Like Yasujiro Ozu's features with seasonal titles, Alexander Sokurov's hallucinatory video elegies tend to be so similar, even in their running times, that they blur together in memory. Elegy of a Voyage (2001, 47 min.)—whose title, grammatically speaking, should have been Elegy For a Voyage—is a journey, a dream, a first-person narrative (visibly as well as audibly) that evokes the 19th century, and a hypnotic study in textures relating to fog, snow, and water that often entails a breakdown in the usual divisions between color and black and white (as well as fiction and documentary). It was commissioned by the Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam, which asked Sokurov to look at a work of art in its collection “like a night watchman in a deserted museum.” By the time Sokurov creeps into the museum to reflect on Brueghel's The Tower of Babel and seven other paintings, he seems to have trekked across substantial portions of his native Russia as well as Helsinki harbor. In Russian with subtitles.

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