(Alexandr Sokurov, Russia, 2000)


Alexandr Sokurov's Moloch is a mighty strange film, and a real departure for him.

Leaving behind, for a while, most of his familiar spiritualist abstractions (although fog still makes a welcome appearance), Sokurov embarks on an interrogation of the act of historical representation in this odd dramatic essay on 'picturing Hitler': What is life-like? What is true? What is apt? Does that gleaming gramophone register as a hyperreal prop? What physiognomies should be cast, what gestures should the actors be directed to produce – mimicry of what we know from newsreels or staged Nazi spectaculars? What was daily life for this bunch around Hitler? What premonitions of the future, what intimations of the outside, what retrospective insight, should be allowed to colour the depiction? Do catchphrases like 'the banality of evil' satisfy us any longer in imagining this depiction?

Somewhere between Syberberg and Mel Brooks, Moloch stirs the pot. Sokurov's subsequent work Taurus (2001) continues the cycle of history-films – comparable, at some level, to the equally cryptic series that Éric Rohmer began with The Lady and the Duke (2001).

MORE Sokurov: Elegy of a Voyage, Father and Son

© Adrian Martin May 2001

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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