At the NOS News items about art are preferably decorated with a Famous Person. When it comes to economic or political topics, no one ever needs to brighten things up. But art is mistaken for inaccessible, hence. There isn’t much art in the Journal either, unless there’s a riot, or a red carpet, or when it comes to a lot of money: the most expensive painting ever. But now the News was paying attention to a Russian space film. It will really be filmed in space, unlike all those movies that imitate rockets and space.

We saw an actress and a director board a real rocket and become really weightless. The famous person on duty was Martin Koolhoven (filmmaker, but here mainly TV personality). He played the game well. But he was also laughing. Because he knows: this is nonsense. Film can imitate anything lifelike, so this is wasted effort. Yes, every filmmaker wants to seduce the audience to really enjoy, to be really afraid, to really laugh, to really sob, while that audience knows that what it sees isn’t real.

State Funeral : the mourning mob in Moscow.
still Mokum Film Distribution

That weightless space actress does all that effort for nothing. What was her name again? Yulia Peresild. I look her up on a movie site. Russian star. Breakthrough in 2012 with a film by Sergei Loznitsa.

Hey! I just saw a movie of him in the cinema. A documentary: State Funeral. Strange thing, a collage of archive footage of Stalin’s funeral in March 1953. It’s fascinating to watch and I admit, that’s because everything is real. Tens of thousands of people in billowing crowds (out of frame people were trampled). I see their crying faces, the puffs of breath from their mouths. There’s Stalin in his coffin. What an idiot big funeral bouquets. And that stately woman posing as the grieving Madonna, is that La Pasionaria, head of the Spanish Civil War? She is given the time, the people have to walk past the coffin, their necks stretch rhythmically. And speeches are always blaring from loudspeakers, glorifying Stalin as the most beautiful, wisest, most brilliant, sweetest leader. All in all, it was an exercise in absurdism, as this cleverly put together film suggests.

Director Loznitsa happens to be present at this screening, I speak to him briefly, ask him how he came to grips with kilometers of material. He says that when editing the film, he often thought of Hitchcock’s thriller The Trouble with Harry — about a corpse that keeps reappearing. And that music that flies over the crowds? Especially Mozarts Requiem – Lacrimosa, all the time. Loznitsa used the real tape from the state radio, he says. That music is real. And the images are real too. Only, he put them together. And that is “a lie,” he grins. Doesn’t matter, not even for a documentary, it makes him all the more real.

Leave a Reply