Taurus (Телец) BFI South Bank 4 December


A film by Aleksandr Sokurov and not for the first time he makes it difficult to see what ‘s going on.

It is 1924 and Lenin (a kind of Lenin) is dying in a country house outside Moscow.  His wife and sister squabble over him.  He can’t do 17 x 22, but wants still to know about corporal punishment.  There is no telephone, there are no letters.  Stalin arrives in a posh motor car and spends a long time preening before threatening in a thick accent.  Lenin has an outburst of impotent fury over the soup at an overelaborate dinner table, like Hitler in Sokurov’s Moloch as I recall.  Snatches of Rachmaninov’s Paganini Variations play slowly from time to time.  Also on occasions, Leonid Mozgovoi playing Lenin forgets that the right side of his face is meant to be paralysed, as well as his body.

Lenin dies at the end, after Nadezhda Krupskaya has gone to answer a phone call from the Central Committee.  Nature goes on, unheeding and unkempt.  The audience departs thinking Now that’s over and I’m glad it’s ended.

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