Dersu Uzala (1975), Akira Kurosawa

Winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, Akira Kurosawa’s 1975 Dersu Uzala – a sprawling epic played out in the Russian wilderness – works wonderfully as a metaphor for man’s paradoxical feelings towards the civilizing process and its trappings.

dersu-uzala-2Like the individual himself, society constantly struggles between the two ends of the civilizing spectrum. As it feels divided by such a battle within, it thus divides the people who it is made of. Romantics towards the misguided idea of the noble savage still exist, but none of them feel inclined to trade-off their modern comforts for a rough life. Because words and ideas are an abyss apart from actions and reality, we juggle moral platitudes and change nothing around us. Continue reading

Battleship Potemkin (1925), Sergei Eisenstein

Communist propaganda disguised as art, Sergei Eisenstein’s 1925 Battleship Potemkin – a truly iconic film in the entire history of cinema – must be seen and understood as a piece of film-making in itself, and not only as the product of a specific era, aimed to awe and persuade. 

battleship-potemkin-2Looking back to the past with the benefit of hindsight is a wonderful thing… Being far removed from the actions and the emotions of a certain period in time – especially if it is a controversial one – allows great insight into what once might have been taken for granted. With communism long gone, and the cold war consigned to the history books, the narrative within Battleship Potemkin [Bronenosets Potyomkin] can be finally understood allegorically – seen past through its propaganda veneer. Continue reading

Stalker (1979), Andrei Tarkovsky

A subtle science fiction masterpiece, Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1979 Stalker, this visually stunning and enigmatic film about human curiosity, spiritual fulfilment, hope and desire, goes on an existential quest, which will delight some and infuriate others in equal measure.

stalker-2The divide between plot-led and character-driven stories creates misunderstanding and hostility among film-lovers. What for one group is a nuanced and detailed tale, for another is nothing else than a boring and overlong story. What some people admire in certain Hollywood blockbusters is seen by others as mindless and bloated entertainment. A further chasm is created by a third group of films – allusive, metaphorical and imagery-preoccupied ones – made by true auteurs like Malick or Kieslowski, and especially, Russian master Andrei Tarkovsky. Continue reading