Alexander Sokurov (b. 1951)
Sonata dlya Gitlera AKA Sonata for Hitler (1979-1989)
This short movie from Sokurov uses archival footage of Adolf Hitler composed in a new manner with sometimes classical, sometimes unsettling music in the background. I'm not sure about the date of the production, as the final cut was made in 1989 but the preliminary version was ready in 1979
with so many early films by Sokurov, this film has two dates: the first is the date of its creation (the film was then banned), the second is the date of the final edition and legal public screening. The film consists of German and Soviet archive footage of the World War II - to be exact, from the end of the war. An attempt to make a large-scale documentary on this subject had been undertaken in the Soviet cinema of the 1960s: the film - "Ordinary Fascism" - by the outstanding Soviet film-maker Mikhail Romm had become a classic retrospective investigation of fascism. But Sokurov uses the expressive power of the documentary image in an absolutely different way. He does not amass materials for a large-scale picture of Nazi crimes.
As a lyrical film-maker, in the space of this short film, he manages to present an entire overview of the historical landscape after the catastrophe. He chooses only the psychological aspect of this, showing the perpetrators of crimes as also the victims of their crimes: the execution of Hitler's generals, the miserable despair of a defeated Hitler, the shame of the crowd use only to regimentation, the shame of the nation. Here Sokurov makes an unspoken comparison with the history of his own country: it was victorious in the face of Hitler, but at the same time had bred its own dictator, Stalin. The footage is numbered; dates on both sides of the frame denote the years of Hitler's and Stalin's deaths (1945 and 1953 respectively).
- Alexandra Tuchinskaya
Translated by Olga Abramenko with assistance from Benjamin Halligan.