Year: 2007
Country: Russia
Running time: 92 mins
Screenplay: Alexander Sokurov
Photography: Alexander Burov
Editor: Sergei Ivanov
Music: Andrei Sigle
In Russian with English subtitles
PG cert

With: Galina Vishnevskaya, Vasili Shevtsov, Raisa Gichaeva

Festivals: Cannes, Toronto, London 2007; Rotterdam 2008
The great Alexander Sokurov (Russian Ark, Mother and Son) has made an eloquent anti-war film in which not a shot is fired. Russian opera legend Galina Vishnevskaya stars as an elderly woman who makes the long journey to visit her grandson, an officer stationed among the bored, weary troops at a desolate outpost. She’s welcomed into this harsh male world with awkward tenderness and as she explores the soldiers’ grim environment she also ventures into the homes of war-weary Chechen women her own age. The minimal narrative has a simple grace. Every eerily exquisite image of the staunch old babushka as she endeavours to connect with life in this devastated landscape speaks volumes. “This dream-like visit to Grozny by a prim babushka... melts disbelief and creates an extraordinary sympathy for soldiers, Chechen civilians and bewildered Russians. The absolute opposite of docudrama, but a timely and humane film.“ — Ian Christie, Sight & Sound

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