The Village Detective: A Song Cycle
Directed by Bill Morrison • 2021 • United States
Starring Gísli Fannar Gylfason, Erlendur Sveinsson, Peter Bagrov
During the summer of 2016, a fishing boat off the shores of Iceland made a most curious catch: four reels of 35 mm film, seemingly of Soviet provenance. Unlike the film find explored in Bill Morrison’s DAWSON CITY: FROZEN TIME, it turned out this discovery wasn’t a lost work of major importance, but an incomplete print of a popular Soviet comedy from 1969, starring the beloved Russian actor Mihail Žarov. Does that mean it has no value? Morrison thought not. To him, the heavily water-damaged print, and the way it surfaced, could be seen as a fitting reflection on the film work of Žarov, who re-emerges from the bottom of the sea fifty years later like a Russian Rip Van Winkle, to a world where reels of film are as antiquated as the Soviet Union. But if celluloid film is the only medium that can survive the ocean, how will future generations remember us? Morrison uses the discovery as a jumping-off point for a meditation on cinema’s past, offering a journey into Soviet history and film accompanied by a gorgeous score by Pulitzer- and Grammy-winning composer David Lang.
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