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The Fall of Otrar, Ardak Amirkulov (Kazakhstan, 1990): Russian Inferno: The Films of Alexei Guerman

Film - Series | August 23 | 7 p.m. |  PFA Theater

Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Institute of East Asian Studies (IEAS)

Produced and cowritten by Guerman (with his wife and regular collaborator Svetlana Karmalita), Ardak Amirkulov's 1990 historical epic about the intrigue and turmoil preceding Genghis Khan's systematic destruction of the lost East Asian civilization of Otrar is a one-of-a-kind experience. Amirkulov's film, shot in sepia-toned black and white, is at once hallucinatory, visually resplendent, and ferociously energetic, packed with eye-catching (and -gouging) detail and B-movie fervor, and traversing an endless variety of parched, epic landscapes and ornate palaces. But The Fall of Otrar is also an astute historical film, and its high quotient of torture and gore (Italian horror genius Mario Bava would have been envious) is always grounded in the bedrock of realpolitik: when the Kharkhan of Otrar is finally brought before the Ruler of the World, he could be facing Stalin, or, for that matter, any number of modern CEOs.

—Kent Jones

• Written by Alexei Guerman, Svetlana Karmalita. Photographed by Saparbek Kaychumanov. With Sabira Ataeva, Ali Teukojev, Tungyshpai Djamaukolov. (165 mins, In Kazakh, Mandarin, and Mongolian with English subtitles, Color, 35mm)

 $5.50 BAM/PFA members UC Berkeley students,  $9.50 Adults (18-64),  $6.50 UC Berkeley faculty, staff, and retirees Non-UC Berkeley students Senior citizens (65 & over) Disabled persons Youth (17 & under), 510-642-0808