The Chekist

A grim, harrowing, and—within its own debatable terms—highly accomplished Russian feature (1992) by Alexander Rogozhkin (The Guard) about the exterminations of prisoners carried out by the Russian secret police shortly after the Bolshevik revolution, focusing in part on the mental deterioration of a bureaucrat in charge of the executions. Much emphasis is given to the ritualistic aspects of the killings, such as the stripping of the victims beforehand and the hoisting of their corpses out of the basement slaughterhouse and into a covered wagon. Stylistically the film is restrained and distanced to the point of outrage, and it's difficult to determine how much Rogozhkin is involved in a historical commentary and how much he's indulging in a morbid fantasy derived from such a commentary. With Igor Sergeyev and Alexei Polouyan.

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