Sokurov's early feature, loosely adapted from Shaw's Heartbreak House, will come as a surprise to anyone used to the director's sombre, soulful later work. The storytelling is expressionistic and experimental. A group of eccentrics run amok in a country house, seemingly unaware of the catastrophe looming just a few hundred yards away. Between the naturalistic scenes, Sokurov blithely throws in b/w newsreel footage of the real Shaw stroking his white beard and montage sequences of Zeppelins and armies on the march. The result is somewhat akin to an absurdist satire by Ionesco. The scattergun style didn't appeal at all to the Soviet authorities, who blocked the film several times.
Cast and crew