Third part in Aleksandr Sokurov's quadrilogy of Power, following Moloch (1999) and Taurus (2001), focuses on Japanese Emperor Hirohito and Japan's defeat in World War II when he is finally confronted by General Douglas MacArthur who offers him to accept a diplomatic defeat for survival.
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Sokurov's latest film, "Taurus" can hardly be called a successful endeavor but it has a few things going for it. The story of Lenin's final days, his battle against his own physical decay and the understanding that his ideals never were and never will be realized is related by Sokurov almost as a filmed stage play shot in muted blue. "Taurus" depicts a giant who has outlived his time - isolated on a farm away from the world waiting out his death, ineffective and forgotten. Even those that are meant to take care of him treat him as an invalid or a fool. The film has many intriguing ideas about the nature of power and the reaction of an individual faced with his own mortality, but its excessive wordiness and repetitions bog it down. In its favor the film shows a surprising sense of humor in the face of all the dreariness which keeps it from being unwatchable and lightens up the intensity a bit. Mosgovoy's performance as Lenin is either pitch-perfect or more than a bit over the top depending on your taste.
As compared to the only other Sokurov film I've seen, "Mother and Son," this almost seems to be the work of a totally different director. Whereas "Mother" was almost entirely wordless, "Taurus" is heavy on the dialogue; "Mother" was shot in wide open outdoor expanses and "Taurus" takes place mostly in a single room; "Taurus" uses professional actors while the characters in "Mother" were obviously amateurs. However, both films share the same stateliness, the aspirations to High Art, and interest in visual experimentation. I can't say that I agree with the claims that Sokurov is a modern master based on what I've seen but he's certainly talented. "Taurus" has much to admire about it - and in a brilliant scene where Stalin comes to pay Lenin a visit it achieves greatness - but never quite achieves its lofty aspirations.
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