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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 Second Circle

The Second Circle

Winter, Light, and the Intimate Sublime

(p.88) Chapter Five The Second Circle
The Cinema of Alexander Sokurov

Jeremi Szaniawski

Columbia University Press

This chapter reviews Alexander Sokurov's The Second Circle (1990). With its significant symbolism of hibernation and hell, The Second Circle speaks eminently to the “death” of the Soviet regime, leaving the next generation all but unprepared for an uncertain future, at the mercy of the whims or good will of those with more acumen or resourcefulness. Historicizing the film further, The Second Circle also embodies, in its central fixation, the expression of a repressed, taboo subject hitherto in the Soviet Union: the millions of dead left unaccounted for, whose memory had been buried as surely as their corpses were swallowed by common graves during the height of communist and Stalinist terror. In Sokurov's earlier film, Save and Protect, death strikes at the end, but is always present. In The Second Circle, it has struck at the beginning, leaving room for some sort of hope via oddly moving human interactions. The Second Circle seems to serve as one of the best examples, in Sokurov's filmography, of the “intimate sublime,” which is related to Immanuel Kant's notion of a “negative” sublime.

Keywords:   The Second Circle, hibernation, hell, Soviet Union, corpse, death, hope, intimate sublime

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