Screened as part of NZIFF 2004

Father and Son 2003

Otets i Syn

Directed by Alexander Sokurov

Germany / Russia In Russian with English subtitles
84 minutes 35mm


Sergei Potepalov


Alexander Burov


Sergei Ivanov


Andrei Sigle


Andrei Shetinin
Alexei Neimyshev
Alexander Rabash


Cannes (In Competition), Vancouver 2003; Rotterdam 2004


Critics' Prize, Cannes 2003


After the extravagance of Russian Ark, Aleksandr Sokurov returns to the intimate expressionism of his earlier Mother and Son in this plotless, highly aesthetic idealisation of early manhood and a passionate father/son bond. A crewcut young soldier lives with his surprisingly youthful father. The camera dotes on their limber bodies and soulful gazes. An attention-grabbing opening sequence where the near-naked father comforts and caresses his nightmare-ridden son is charged with eroticism. The boy’s mother, the love of his father’s life, died young, and each somehow embodies the absent mother/wife to the other. Maybe the boy’s girlfriend, as pale and beautiful as he, fancies the father. A biblical text accentuates the mythic: ‘A father’s love crucifies; a loving son lets himself be crucified’. On the planks and rooftops outside their Lisbon attic apartment, father and son work out, tussle and dance around each other in a constant pas de deux of separation and reunion. — BG

“As carnal as Caravaggio, and as modern as Merce Cunningham.” — Ian Christie, London Film