Tengiz Abuladze’s dreamlike allegorical fantasy about Stalinism, as well as despotism in general, is probably the best known and almost certainly one of the best Soviet films to have surfaced as a result of glasnost. Part three in a trilogy, the film needs no special knowledge or background to be enjoyed and appreciated. Avtandil Makharadze is especially effective (and funny) as the despotic Georgian mayor who represents a composite of famous dictators (Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini), a comic-opera figure who literally sings arias at his victims, and also as his divided son who has to justify his father’s outrages many years later. While possibly overlong at 150 minutes, the film represents a complex achievement: an attempt to work through the unacknowledged nightmares of the past, often using fantasy and comedy as essential ingredients, and a striking stylistic effort in its own right. Winner of the special jury prize at the 1987 Cannes film festival. (JR)

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