The Sokurov of Francofonia seems different from his usual self — more doubtful, uncertain in his focus, perhaps more open. And the film duly mirrors the attitude of its maker, jumping from one barely formed thought to the next, tracking back, mixing things up, like we all do while visiting a museum, and letting distraction get the best of us for a minute.
Sokurov's open-ended Eurocentric meditation is, above all, a stunning visual achievement. The fluency with which he combines the pixels, ghosts and artifacts is extraordinary, and his deft use of drone footage is a lesson to many gadget-happy filmmakers.
The subject of Francofonia is art as the spoils of war, and the example he gives is the period when the Louvre – called at one point “the capital of the world” – came under Nazi control. Making the barest hint about the destruction of historic artworks in Syria at the hands of ISIS, Sokurov gently reminds the viewer why all this is terribly relevant today.
The director Alexander Sokurov is a visual virtuoso. So it’s odd, not to mention a bit disappointing, to find that the Russian filmmaker’s latest project, Francofonia, is so talky and, with rare exceptions, visually dull.
Zero One Film,
Arte France Cinéma,
Musée du Louvre, Paris,
Centre national du cinéma et de l'image animée (CNC),
Film- und Medienstiftung NRW,
Deutscher Filmförderfonds (DFFF),
MEDIA Programme of the European Union