Film: Films from a Russian Apocalypse

Six metaphysical classics to bring you down, man
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The Independent Culture
Sergei Paradjanov's The Colour of Pomegranates (1968). Sent to the gulags for all kinds of transgressions, Paradjanov's lavishly baroque aestheticism was not what the Soviet authorities wanted to see. Aristakisyan turned up on Paradjanov's doorstep when he was only 20.

Elem Klimov's Come and See (1985). Disliked by liberal Russians for its re-writing of the war on the Eastern Front, it is nevertheless one of the most damaging, terrifying anti-war films ever made. He has not made a film since.

Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker (1979). Tarkovsky is the granddaddy of Russian metaphysics and this, according to some, is his magnum opus, a futurist fantasy and political allegory set in some decayed and mysteriously powerful interzone.

Grigory Kozintsev's King Lear (1971). A Shakespeare adaptation, staged among large boulders with half-naked actors on a freezing steppe. Even Lear's castle is decomposing into the raw materials of nature. Do we scent a metaphor here?

Alexander Sokurov's Days of Eclipse (1988). Another non-commercial auteur in a similar maverick mould to Aristakisyan. This is set in a desert in Soviet Central Asian where a doctor experiences exile.

Vladimir Tumaev's Moon Dogs (1995). Unreleased in the West, this tale of a 12-year-old girl dying of Aids in a Russian orphanage is said to have a grim, forbidding stamp on it. No holds barred.

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