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The Dialogues with Solzhenitsyn


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Editorial Reviews

In this evocative two-part portrait of Alexander Solzhenitsyn, director Alexander Sokurov interprets the acclaimed writer s life based on two lengthy talks with Solzhenitsyn and his wife. DIALOGUES is not a straightforward biography but instead focuses on Solzhenitsyn s monologues and his discussions with Sokurov about Russian literature, folklore, history, and language. The result is a portrait of a Russian legend through his own words.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: N, A
  • Directors: Alexander Sokurov
  • Format: Black & White, Color, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: Russian
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: IDEALE AUDIENCE
  • DVD Release Date: August 28, 2007
  • Run Time: 180 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000ROA04U
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #267,897 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
5 star
71%
4 star
14%
3 star
0%
2 star
14%
1 star
0%
See all 7 customer reviews
Sokurov gives us a superb interview with the great Russian writer.
villegem
Though I'm sure it's not intentional, Sokurov sometimes came off a bit surly when he tries over and over again to *lead* Solzhenitsyn in his direction of thinking.
Pristine
A fascinating film that sheds light on Solzhenitsyn the artist as well as our age's own spiritual struggles.
Kerry Walters

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Pristine on July 23, 2008
Format: DVD
In the beginning of Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago, a story is told where an expedition at the Kolyma River discovers a fish that has been perfectly preserved in the ice lens for thousands of years. The peasants broke open the ice and devoured the fish on the spot.

In "Dialogues" Russian filmmaker Alexander Sokurov dutifully preserves Solzhenitsyn on film for generations to come. A slight diffused focused image runs throughout the four part documentary, and many moments (some more magical than others) keep the camera rolling, framed on the author just relaxing, contemplating, and in repose for minutes. It's almost as if Sokurov is in a state of wonder, basking in the notion that here is a Russian great, still alive, and we, in our great fortune, are able to give him proper due.

Sokurov is committed to promoting the legacy and continuum of Russian writers, filmmakers, and artists. He has made films about Rostropovich, Tarkovsky, Dostoyevsky, and the Hermitage.

The film begins with a short documentary (using still photographs) of Solzhenitsyn's life, going through wartime, imprisonment and exile, bout with cancer, exile in Vermont USA, and then back to Russia. The first interview is symbolic and the most magical, as filmmaker and writer walk through the woods on a path, sitting on one bench after another. We get the sense that with each stop and ensuing conversation, he is revealing another layer to Sokurov, and finally, instead of following the path to the end, they opt for an alternate route. The author's wife Natalia Svetlova is also interviewed in their home.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Billyjack D'Urberville on October 24, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is an astonishing and breathtakingly intimate portrait of Solzhenitsyn in the late 1990s, at his country getaway in Russia. Walking the wooded property and upstairs in his writing room, Solzhenitsyn is, at last, finally himself, not a public personna. His work on his vast historical cycle "The Red Wheel" done, he is consciously winding down and permits time for this film project. In allowing it, he also allows for what can be considered a unique addition to his canon, and of a sort he could not have made himself.

If film maker/interviewer Alexander Sakurov is a little awkward in some questions, a little wrapped up in his own puzzles, no matter. Solzhenitsyn is vastly tolerant and comfortable, and a masterful handler and juggler. He gets out what needs be said about his views and methods anyway, including memorable meditations on the Russian language and how he consciously tried to use it -- in an "ideal" sense. Trained as a mathematician (and we see shots of him rigorously home-schooling his own sons in the subject) we thus come to see his approach to language in a mathematician's sense -- use ideal words which must be in the language, like ideal geometrical shapes, even if not in dictionaries. Here too, Solzhenitsyn tacitly understands that his interviewer's lapses are not his own fault, but the sad legacy of any modern Russian deprived of his own history by 70 years of propagandistic dumbing down.

This is a film to be seen more than once which must sobering thought. It moves quickly for its length, and can easily be broken down into 3 separate short films if too much all at once.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Kerry Walters VINE VOICE on January 7, 2009
Format: DVD
This is a remarkable film. No gimmicks, no staging, not even the smoothness that typically suggests "professionalism." Just a magnificent series of conversations between director Alexander Sokurov and Solzhenitsyn. Solzhenitsyn is incredible. Filmed when he was 81, his mind is amazingly sharp and penetrating. Although he clearly tires physically at times, his reflections are fresh but at the same time tempered by the wisdom that comes from years.

Sokurov encourages Solzhenitsyn to reflect on his Christian faith, the role of suffering in life (Solzhenitsyn is careful to make a distinction between genuine suffering and the decay or corruption which he sees infecting today's society), the nature of art (there's a fascinating squabble between the two in which Solzhenitsyn defends folk lore as a "professional" art form), Russian literature (his admiration in particular for Chekov and Platonov), literary genres, the purpose of life (to leave life a bit more morally developed than is our nature, says Solzhenitsyn), the oligarchic corruption of post-Soviet Russia, and the west.

Three gems that I jotted down while listening to the conversations:

"We're flooded with so much information that there's no room for the soul to breathe."

"An artist must fight entropy and create other potentialities."

"Beauty is truth expressed through matter."

A fascinating film that sheds light on Solzhenitsyn the artist as well as our age's own spiritual struggles.
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Format: DVD
This is a fascinating, wonderful film. The film consists of little more than the title, Dialogues with Solzhenitsyn. But Alexander Solzhenitsyn is so fascinating, thought provoking, and brilliant, that I didn't mind at all. Sokurov does many bold, remarkable things here with his film. He hardly cuts at all. There are very few "documentary" shots used in the film. There are some stills of Solzhenitsyn when he was young, some stills of his family, but there is very little stock footage used (a common trick used by documentary filmmakers), and there are no fancy graphics at all (which are used ad nauesum by filmmakers today, especially American ones). Sokurov films himself occasionally in two shot with Solzhenitsyn while walking in a park, but that's really the only time you see him. Solzhenitsyn remarks on modern Russia, the lack of spirituality in modern society, the lack of great literature, his time in the Gulag, and his time in Vermont (which is rather charming). His wife is also featured, and she's a remarkable woman in her own right.

Some have complained that Sokurov, who is a great artist in his own right, is annoying and pushy when asking questions. Sokurov has many of the same concerns that Solzhenitsyn has about the world, Russia, and art, so it's a conversation between two artists who have areas of agreement and areas of disagreement. Sokurov doesn't have Solzhenitsyn's stature, but Sokurov is no hack reporter. He's a deeply artistic filmmaker, and he shows a deep respect for Solzhenitsyn by just showing the man. Some will say it's boring, but I found it profoundly fascinating. The film runs 3 hours, but it just flew by for me. If you are interested in Russia, her art, Sokurov, and Solzhenitsyn, you have to see this film.
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