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THE ASTHENIC SYNDROME

Director: KIRA MURATOVA

RUSSIA • 1989 • SUBTITLED • BLAC K AND WHITE /COLOUR • 153 MIN


Acclaimed by the great American critic Jonathan Rosenbaum and described by Russian cultural commentator Andrei Dementyev as ‘the only masterpiece of glasnost cinema’, Kira Muratova’s extraordinary film provides a devastating portrait of the perestroika years. It begins in black and white with a story of a troubled, bereaved woman and the tone is desperately bleak. Suddenly her tale is revealed to be a film that’s being shown at a Moscow cinema to an audience which includes the narcoleptic teacher hero of the ‘main’ film. This Moscow is shown with unflinching, sometimes comic acuteness to be a place of hysterical, aggressive women and passive, inert men, all suffering from the syndrome of the film’s title, a debility that provokes both of these reactions to extreme stress. Muratova’s vision of the late-Soviet life is so merciless that she achieved the by then rare distinction of having her film banned until it won the Special Jury Prize at the Berlin Film Festival in 1990. This is a very rare opportunity to see a truly awesome masterpiece.

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