Thursday, July 7, 2011


No man can grasp some of the phenomena of human psychology and nature  as woman can - Larisa Shepitko

In this documentary Elem Klimov takes us on a personal journey in to the life of his wife and fellow director; Larisa Shepitko, who was killed in a car accident during the filming of what would have been her third film. For the last couple of years her films have found a new audience in the form of criterion collectors. In 2008 criterion released her only 2 features: 'Wings' (the story of a former female communist pilot who hasn't quite adjusted to her "normal life" as the headmaster of a school) and 'The Ascent' (her last film about 2 Russian soldiers who's loyalty and friendship are put to the test). I'll admit i wasn't familiar at all with her work, and had no idea she was married to the director of 'Come & See'. Like so many other Russian directors (including her husband), Shepitko was clearly inspired by Andrei Tarkovsky, but unlike Elem Klimov, Alexander Sokurov, Ilia Khrzhanovsky or other modern Russian directors, she seemed to be more inspired by Tarkovsky's earlier films like 'Ivan's childhood' and 'Andrei Rublev' than his later work like 'The Mirror' and 'The Sacrifice' which you can see in so many Russian film like '4' (Khrzhanovsky), the "leaders trilogy" (Sokurov) and 'Come & See' (Klimov).
If you're familiar with Elem Klimov's work, you know his fictional films are very emotionally draining (see my review for Come & See). This documentary is no exception. Right away, the opening music mixed with old photos of Larisa play with our emotions and we're already sad 2 minutes in. At the time of Shepitko's death she had been working on a film titled 'Farewell to Matyora" (the story of a Siberian village that's being evacuated to make room for a DAM). According to Klimov (who also serves as the narrator), Larisa had been preparing for this film all of her life. The documentary has the typical interviews with people who she worked with, audio excerpts, and personal photos. One audio excerpt that stood out to me the most was Shepitko talking about being a female director (which is something we cover quite a bit in this blog). She states: There is nothing of me that is not of a woman. In every frame of my films. I never tried to imitate men, because all attempts of women directors to imitate a man's cinema were senseless. 
Elem Klimov was extremely active in the first half of the 80's, but after 'Come & See' came out in 1985 he would never make another film again. He was quoted saying that he had; lost interest in making films, because; Everything that was possible I felt I had already done. I'm willing to bet the death of his wife (who he also collaborated with) played a role in his inactivity as a director later on in life.
Thankfully someone posted this up on youtube. I'd watch this as soon as possible before someone ends up having it taken down...

Excerpts from Laris Shepiko's films...
I apologize for the constant non-subtitled clips on these blog entires, but at the same time a lot of Shepitko's work is based on emotion (like many other Russian films). So even though you cant understand what people are saying, you can still get the basic premise of each scene and appreciate the acting.


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