From the East
New Digital Restoration
A travelogue through history. . . . Akerman has described this elegant masterpiece as ‘documentary bordering on fiction’; it’s also a purely cinematic monument in time and space.J. Hoberman, Village Voice
Shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Chantal Akerman headed east, through Germany and Poland—the country of her parents—and all the way to Moscow, to witness and record the still palpable presence of the Soviet Union ahead of its inevitable dissolution. She made a film, as she put it, “in my own style of documentary bordering on fiction,” shooting “everything. Everything that moves me.” Her cinematic sojourn moves through the seasons, from green summer meadows to bustling city sidewalks golden in the light of autumn afternoons and to the snowy gray expanse of Moscow. Akerman uses long tracking shots interspersed with fixed shots to record a variety of landscapes and cityscapes, modest domestic interiors, echoing dance halls, and epic train stations. The inhabitants of these spaces, even those that sometimes glance in the direction of the camera, appear indifferent to its gaze, patiently if warily anticipating the change to come.