December 01, 2007

Mother and Son (Sokurov, 1997)

More random thoughts:

It’s appropriate that I watched Renoir’s The River and Sokurov’s Mother and Son so close together, because both dismiss the necessity of performance for dramatisation thereby leaving themselves open to become works of outstanding cinematic beauty.

I don’t know how to describe this! A beautiful ode to that unique relationship between mother and child? It’s dialogue is so sparse, and it’s scope so limited (to just the two performances) but it still manages to infer so much by overtly revealing so little. And of course, it’s subject matter is so private in its nature that one can’t help but run an entire gamut of emotions thanks to the tender bond that the two ‘protagonists’ (an inapplicable term really, no?) share.

The film is one of the (very) few that succeed in recreating a sense of ‘otherworldliness’ imo. It seems to exist in limbo – cautiously drifting along the line between life and death, and Sokurov’s mise-en-scene brilliantly reflects that. I’m not quite sure how he does it, but he manages to eradicate all depth-of-field from his shots and he distorts his images to the point where we’re left with a film that resembles a poignant oil canvas that’s alive. How else to describe it?!?! And then there’s his use of sound! Interspersing dialogue with howls, barks, gusts of wind, crashing waves of the sea… sounds that aren’t always there but absolutely serve the cause by assisting in the creation of that truly unique atmosphere.

It’s an elegiac hymn for the senses… yeah! A hymn to that loving mother-son relationship… almost devious in its quiet complexity (the scene with the scrapbook and the postcards that hint at memories both happy and not-so) yet ultimately assured in its simplicity re: their devotion to one another.

Apologies for failing so miserably at conveying what this film means to me. But do yourselves a favour and watch it.

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