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The Cinema of Alexander SokurovFigures of Paradox$
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Jeremi Szaniawski

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780231167352

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231167352.001.0001

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The Return to Neverwas and the Ambiguity of Romance

(p.233) Chapter Fourteen Alexandra
The Cinema of Alexander Sokurov

Jeremi Szaniawski

Columbia University Press

This chapter reviews Alexander Sokurov's Alexandra (2007). Alexandra is a simple story of familial love and friendship, set against the backdrop of war and suffering. It tells the story of Alexandra Nikolaevna (Alexander Nikolaevich Sokurov's feminine alter ego), a woman who has seen it all. Following her husband's death, Alexandra takes an unlikely trip to a Russian military camp near Grozny, to visit her grandson Denis, a soldier—in an attempt to reconnect with a sense of family and long-repressed love. In the course of said visit, the dour yet nurturing woman discovers the everyday life of soldiers outside combat. For all its simplicity, Alexandra is riddled with paradox. And despite its narrative straightforwardness, it is also one of the director's most ambiguous films. This chapter examines how Sokurov identifies with his protagonist on her quest for love and home and whether he in some sense could be conspiring with the Putin administration to advance his position within the Russian arts—and ultimately to give himself more freedom with his future project(s).

Keywords:   Alexandra, familial love, friendship, war, suffering, Russia, soldiers, home

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