Elegy of Life: Rostropovich. Vishnevskaya, BFI Southbank 18 December


This was a further rarity in the BFI Sokurov season.  Before the film began, a man adorned with a red scarf appeared to tell us that what we were going to see was on tape rather than film.  I can’t say I noticed.  But I did notice that the titles were in English, and there this was called ‘Part 2’.  So what happened to Part 1?  The hard copy handout certainly described the whole thing…a whole thing that I’ve never seen…

To start off with, I was most interested in the health condition of the two subjects:  they both spoke like they’d had strokes, his worse than hers, and Vishnevskaya had a puffy steroid face.  And there was this grand celebration dinner packed full of crowned and titled nonentities; unlike Hitler, Hirohito and Lenin, Sokurov didn’t think that these ones were worth shrouding in darkness.

Then there was the description of their early lives over faded photos, the immense unbounded emotion and the cramped particular circumstances; and a stocky old woman in an unfortunate embroidered jacket rehearsing a young singer in the role of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Lyubasha (from Tsarskaya nevesta) and something happened I believed–it was worthwhile.  I even managed not to get to annoyed by Vishnevskaya drivelling on about the Russian national character.

That was worth seeing, even if only half of it was there.

Update 22 December

BFI have now emailed as follows:

Dear Member,

We are pleased to announce that the screening of ‘Elegy of Life Rostropovich Vishnevskaya’ on Wednesday the 28th December at 20:40 will be the full-length version.

The box office would like to offer free tickets to those who booked for 17th December screening or alternatively you can recieve a  refund for the previous screening.

Please contact the BFI Southbank Box Office on 0207 928 3232 between 11.00 AM to 08.30 PM daily (sadly we will be closed on Decmber 24th, 25th and 26th).

Thank you for supporting The BFI Southbank

Kind Regards,

BFI Southbank Box Office

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