The Impression of Reality and the Awareness of the Medium in Alexander Sokurov’s Family Trilogy

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Drawing on Brigitte Peucker’s question – “in cinematic experience, what promotes the impression of reality, and when does medium awareness come into play?” – I examine how Sokurov’s family trilogy constitutes a certain oscillation between the immediate and the constructed. The films under discussion connect with the sensual, physical-biological and socio-political reality, while, simultaneously, they emphasize the artificial and stylised. Mother and Son employs distancing painterly images which deemphasise the figures of the characters while it finishes with the extreme close-up exploring the skin as a raw material used to construct image with its varied colours and textures. Father and Son, on the other hand, enters the dialogue with medicine; through the employment of haptic images and medical appropriations, the film focuses on the sensual along with the biological dimension of the body. Set within a clear socio-political context, Alexandra explores the senses which are not readily available in cinema, that is touch and smell, and thus emphasises the trace of the physical presence on screen. This paper demonstrates how Sokurov’s family trilogy situates itself on the intersection of the Bolter and Grusin’s “desire for immediacy” with the mediated and remediated.

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