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The father (Andrei Shchetinin) and teenage son (Aleksei Neymishev) relationship is profound and powerful; they live alone, the father often comforting Aleksei after recurring nightmares in which he is about to be killed. Aleksei, like his father, goes to military school and has a girlfriend – who is jealous of Aleksei’s close bond with his father.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Driven by his worship of images, Aleksandr Sokurov has created a melancholy filmic poem, constructed of faces and moods. For instance, in one early scene, the son is talking to his girlfriend through the half open windows of his barracks, as they discuss their relationship. Both are jealous; Sokurov moves the camera in close, studying them through the gaps as if to echo the slim openings of their tentative communication.

She is jealous of his closeness with his father, he of her older lover – a symbolic if sideways element in what is a film in slow emotional motion.

The two leads portray the closeness of their relationship with simple but effective naturalism, and an intimacy that at times seems like the intimacy of lovers. Sokurov’s visual asides add a sense of tangible reality to the film’s intense, almost claustrophobic focus. 

The mood is heightened by a warm lighting palette that glows with a golden haze much of the time, recalling the rich oil paintings of the Renaissance romantics; and by the ethereal score (whose composer remains a mystery).

It’s only if we view the film as a plea for deeper male relationships, especially between father and son, that we can view the film at all. There’s no conventional plot, but the film nevertheless is a story - but we don’t see the beginning or the end of it, just a piece in the middle: that part of the journey that the filmmaker has documented.

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(Russia/Germany/Italy/Netherlands, 2003)

Otets I syn

CAST: Andrei Shchetinin, Alexei Neymishev, Aleksandr Razbash, Fyodor Lavrov, Marina Zasukhina

PRODUCER: Igor Kalyonov, Thomas Kufus

DIRECTOR: Azleksandr Sokurov

SCRIPT: Sergei Potepalov


PRODUCTION DESIGN: Natalya Kochergina

RUNNING TIME: 86 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 18, 2004

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