421) The Sun (2005) Dir: Aleksandr Sokurov Date Released: November 2009 Date Seen: November 30, 2009 Rating: 3.75/5
To create the dream-like limbo that his films exist in,* Aleksandr Sokurov relies on a method of anti-pacing. Though his movies tend to dawdle instead of sprint, his art requires a kind of momentum not unlike montage sequencing that allows each adjacent scene to complement each other rather than stand alone as tableaux vivant. This is most apparent in The Sun, his most historically and narratively grounded film released in the U.S to date. The fluidity and grace of his two earlier films, Russian Ark and Alexandra, no longer takes precedence in The Sun. Instead, Sokurov creates an account of Japanese Emperor Hirohito's inevitable surrender that only mimics a dream. Most scenes in the film are brilliant in the way they undermine the verite effect of Sokurov's conspicuously grainy digital camerawork. These moments establish Hirohito (an unsettling performance by Issei Ogata) as one of Sokurov's oneiric travelers, people out of time that lack the perspective and social graces that might allow them to understand the reality they find themselves in. The handful of other scenes in the film though, the ones that reduce his actions to cheap synecdoche (his comments on the examination of a preserved frog, his circuitous address to his generals and his lingering stare at a Renaissance print all reek of simple-minded analysis), remind us that the film's pacing has in fact slowed down, leaving us to wait for the next great singular moment. You don't have to wait long but still, I've never felt as restless watching a Sokurov film as I have while watching The Sun.
*This is in reference to the three films of Sokurov's that have been released in the US: Russian Ark, Alexandra and The Sun.