Povinnost is a poetic documentary of marine life filmed in five installments of 52 minutes each for Russian television. The director of this existential marine epic is Aleksandr Sokurov, so the term documentary does not begin to describe what the experience of this film is like.
Most of the titular "Confession" comes in the form of the ship captain's voice-over monologues. The voice-over throughout, usually the captain's, but sometimes a third person narrater's, is remarkable in its poeticism.
That such an languorous anti-spectacle was broadcast on television anywhere is mind boggling. I can not imagine a North American viewer returning home from a hard day's work and settling in to watch a mini-series featuring an introspective, soul-searching ship captain and a group of young sailors immersed in daily ship routines.
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