In an attempt to expand my knowledge of Chris Marker, whose La jetée and Sans soleil continue to fill my thoughts long after watching them, I sought out his 1992 elegy/criticism of the Soviet Union, The Last Bolshevik. It is that rare thing: an unabashedly leftist account of the USSR that is unsparing in its detailing of faults. Structured around the life of friend and director Alexander Medvedkin, born in 1900 and died in 1989 as the empire collapsed, The Last Bolshevik personalizes the political and politicizes the personal until something that at least feels like a complete document of the Soviet Union. This is a beautiful film, Marker's ruminations never wallowing in intellectual theorizing but always finding a humanistic anchor. Sorrow pervades the film, for the tangible losses of millions of lives through harmful Soviet policies and for the intangible regret that those policies did not work, could not work to bring about a working Marxist state.
It's such a rich movie that I had to devote ample space after my review to disconnected observations I couldn't work into the review but couldn't bear not to mention. So please head on over to Cinelogue to read my review of this remarkable essay film.