No living filmmaker has been more obsessed with the state of the Russian soul than Aleksandr Sokurov. In his viscerally powerful Alexandra, this great filmmaker ponders the cost of war. Mother Russia herself, a blunt, grimly humorous babushka (indelibly played by octogenarian opera diva Galina Vishnevskaya), pays a visit to her grandson's unit in Chechnya. She rides among the young recruits in a troop transport and later, a tank. However incongruous, her tour of inspection through this dusty, sun-bleached landscape has a terrible familiarity. Seldom has a filmmaker so directly addressed his fellow citizens.

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