Alexander Sokurov’s other recent featuresStone, Whispering Pages, Mother and Sonhave extremely aggressive styles and simple, often reactionary contents. Here the subject is a day in the life of Eva Braun and Adolf Hitler, at Hitler’s mountain retreat in late spring 1942, and the film strives, with some success, to be believable making it more than simply rhetorical or bombastic (despite the mythical opening in which a naked Braun, played by Elena Rufanova, dances and cavorts on the huge terraces of a fortress in the cloudsnot quite Leni Riefenstahl, but suggestive of her manner). The script is by Sokurov’s usual screenwriter, Yuri Arabov, and it was shot in Germany with theater actors from Saint Petersburg who were subsequently dubbed by Germans (including Eva Mattes as Eva Braun); the central characters also include Joseph and Magda Goebbels, Martin Bormann, and a priest. Sokurov’s films usually project moods and emotions, but this one mainly provokes thoughts and reflections. Sokurov has noted that he used Braun largely as a distancing and demystifying lens for viewing Hitler: I couldn’t love him, and that’s why I needed somebody [Eva] to love him. Otherwise it would have been impossible to discern him: you can’t see anything black against a black background. (JR)

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