Reviews and Festivals
"One of the most evocative of the 22 films that make up the Glasnost Film Festival...an eloquent statement against the death penalty, and presents American viewers with what was once an anomaly: an official Soviet film attacking official Soviet policy."
— New York Times
"Sympathetic portrait of a young Russian black marketeer who murdered another speculator in a robbery."
— The Russian Review
"Film of syncopated rhythm, the inexorable confrontation of the moral problem of capital punishment."
— Visions du Réel
"Relentlessly, Herz Frank confronts the spectator with the moral problems involved in the death penalty...The photography unscrupulously fixes Dolgov's position: the camera hardly ever lets go of the prisoner who is trying to find out the reason for his act. The deeply human doubts, emotions and utterances of the man under sentence of death in their turn grasp the viewers. Herz Frank and Valerij Dolgov force us, in the first place, to decide on what stand to take in the discussion on capital punishment and to reflect on the meaning of the notions of being a human and humanity."
"Leads the audience to concentrate on the story through the close-up shots of Valery, who is faithfully taking part in the interviews...We need to note that this film not only has the dignity of its message, but also elicits the thought from the audience through the complete plan of the director."
— Jinna Lee, DMZ Docs
"Herz Frank went into his death row cell and talked about life, and the murderer's confession irrevocably influenced both interlocutors."
— National Film Centre of Latvia
"Unveil the human aspect of a murderer, without ever trying to justify the act."
"Most impressive and controversial argument on moral issues...The fascinating courage of the filmmakers (the cinematographer's hair turned grey in the course of the filming) is that they bring us face-to-face with death...strongly argues that the death sentence does not remove the guilt of the murderer: it imposes it on society, as the film itself imposes it on us...Calls for the realization of the price of a human personality, and does it through death"
— Andrew Horton and Michael Brashinsky, The Zero Hour: Glasnost and Soviet Cinema in Transition
Latvian Film Awards, Best Director
Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival, Audience Award
Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival
Berlin International Film Festival
The Lussas Documentary Film Festival
DMZ International Documentary Film Festival
Millenium International Documentary Film Festival
Visions du Réel
"Undulating sea of people...a depressing, frightening and ultimately demonical vision of humanity."
— New York Times
"Shows a procession of exhausted demonstrators, pathetic protagonists of a commemoration with no motive. Sokurov thus establishes an intriguing dialog with the model to represent the masses instituted by Eisenstein, where the parts act as a metaphor of the whole, individuals take the place of the anonymous, symbols are evident in details in the crowd. Here, all of these postulates are reviewed through a contemporary lens: there are no more leaders; social movements have become senseless and are drifting."
— São Paulo International Film Festival
"Questioning the longstanding role of the crowd in Soviet cinema, Sokurov portrays the undulating sea of people not as part of some joyous unanimity but as a gathering of tired participants acting without leadership or purpose."
— Harvard University
"Sokurov creates a tension between the individual and the collective and explores the relationship between the single body and the body of the crowd in a time at the end of ideology."
— Sabine Hänsgen, The Cinema of Alexander Sokurov
"Shows the resurgence of visual experimentation in Soviety filmmaking."
— The Washington Post
International Short Film Festival Oberhausen
The Museum of Modern Art
Karlovy Vary International Film Festival
São Paulo International Film Festival