Introduction by Daniel Bird
The time is 1953, the place is Moscow; the Jewish purges are still on, and Stalin is on his deathbed. When General Yuri Glinsky, a military surgeon, tries to escape, he is abducted, taken to the lowest rungs of hell, and deposited at the heart of the enigma. Alexei Guerman’s deeply personal penultimate film is a work of solid and constant disorientation, masterfully orchestrated. Enigmatic phrases, sounds, gestures, and micro-events pass before our eyes and ears before we or the alternately jumpy and exhausted characters can make sense of them. Guerman’s lustrous black and white images and meticulously constructed soundscape are permeated with the feel of life in a totalitarian society, where something monumental is underway but no one knows precisely what or when or how it will break.
The original 35mm fine grain positive was scanned in 2K resolution on an Arriscan at Eclair, Paris. The film was graded and restored at Dragon DI, Wales. Restoration supervised by James White, Arrow Films; restoration produced by Daniel Bird.