Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, Churchill, along with Jesus find themselves in Purgatory. Resurrected from the dead via animated archival footage, Sokurov uses his signature cinematic style to create a phantasmagoria, in which four of the most notorious leaders in twentieth century European history, along with Christ and a cameo by Napoleon, amble about muttering in their mother tongues, often talking past each other about not much except themselves and their personal regrets. Stripped of their bombast and context, Sokurov seems to imply that these figures were dependent upon their audiences’ adoration to wield their colossal power that resulted in millions of deaths. Their mundane preoccupations in purgatory seem to speak to the banality of evil.

Banned by the censors from theatrical release in Russia and funded in Belgium, the director is well known for his critically acclaimed debut Russian Ark (2002) and the Golden Lion winner Faust (2011).

After its premier at Locarno in 2022, critics called it "eerily beautiful" and "mordantly fanciful," and "...an experience more pleasurable than purgatorial."

Directed by Aleksandr Sokurov; 78 minutes; Georgian, English, French, German, Italian and Aramaic with English subtitles.

REVIEWS

"Set in a purgatorial space in which the infernal quartet of Second World War dictators (Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, and Churchill) appears as if resurrected in death, Sokurov reanimates their bygone ghosts to remind us of the vanities and horrors of the 20th century; that while they may be invisible, they still persist and haunt the present."

In Review Online August 17, 2022 - AYEEN FOROOTAN

"What distinguishes the film from the director’s previous works—and, one might say, from every other film, so unique does it seem to be in form and content—is its singular use of old archival images."

Photogénie March 20, 2023 - Angelo Elia

PLAYDATES

La Casa Encendida
Madrid, Spain
May 10 and May 25, 2024

© 2024 Juno Films Inc.