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a film that is a work of art,
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This review is from: Alexandra  [DVD] (DVD)
Well, this is what Sokurov does. And he does it superbly. This is an occasion when to say that something is an 'art film' is neither pejorative nor precious. It is simply that Sokurov composes his images carefully - a juxtaposition of light and shade, colour and tonal palette, designed to paint a portrait of a particular time and place. The story element is a relatively minor component of his evocation of mood and meaning.
On the one hand, it is so naturalistic that it has an almost documentary feel to it; on the other, it has the sensitivity to visual image of a painter.
Although solely about a war, this is not in any normal sense a war film. It is a measured evocation of time and place; and that time and place happens to be in the middle of a brutal war. Sokurov relies on the mood that he evokes to tell you what he thinks about the issue, and - as with any work of art - different observers will come to their own conclusions as to what that might be.
Enjoy it on its own terms - or avoid it. Narrative storytelling, this isn't.