The Student Is Prophetic, Arresting And A Must Watch!

Abhishek Srivastava - 45 weeks ago

If one were to dig more into the life of Russia’s leading theatre and movie director, Kirill Serebrennikov, one would discover that he is currently embroiled in a legal battle with Russian state authorities. Kirill Serebrennikov, along with three others, is accused of embezzling up to $2 millions of public money from a theatre project when he was heading the Gogol Centre at Moscow. He has denied the charges and has stated on many occasions that the charges are politically motivated. 

(Viktoriya Isakova and Pyotr Skvortsov in a still from The Student)

Controversy apart, his credentials are more solid as a credible maker who has delivered some great cinema in his career. He is a familiar name when it comes to film festival like Cannes, Venice, Locarno and Tribeca. From his repertoire, The Student stands tall. Screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, it won the Francois Chalais Prize. The Student is based on a play called Martyr by renowned playwright Marius von Mayenburg. The film deals with a young fanatic student who after gripped by religious fanaticism starts questioning everything around him which eventually end in a disaster. The film delves deep into the psychic of a person and explores the possibility of what could happen to him when extreme ideology grips him. 

 A film which is a clear attack on the growing influence of the Russian Orthodox Church on society in Putin's Russia Serebrennikov saw the original play in Germany and got so smitten with the play that he immediately wrote to Marius to send him the play. Serebrennikov was of the view that the milieu that were shown in the play reminded him of the situation of Russia. It is ironical that it’s the same Serebrennikov who got a chance to show his skill in the beginning of the millennium when the regime of Vladimir Putin was encouraging and promoting bold and experimental art. 

(Director Kirill Serebrennikov during the shoot of The Student)

For someone who is greatly influenced by cinema of Luis Bunnel, Lars Von trier and Stanley Kubrick, believes that religion is omnipotent in Russia and the influence of preachers is now such that they have taken over television. In an interview, the director had remarked that, “Russians prefer having a leader to follow, rather than thinking for themselves. Even though the church is separated from the state, the orthodox religion takes action on all levels of society. This to me is an interesting theme to explore.” The film also explores the ways in which Christianity has impacted the LGBT community in Russia.  Upon its release the film garnered some great reviews.

The Student is more of a statement by Kirill Serebrennikov against the cultural agendas of Russian political system. The Student is a slow burning drama that slowly gains momentum and before the film ends assumes the proportions of a full-fledged fire. 

The Student is a film which will linger in your mind long after you have left the theatre. The compelling ride that one witnesses in the film straddles between realism and metaphor. Kirill Serebrennikov is in complete control of all the departments for his film and this film undoubtedly remains his best work till date. The student is a difficult film to watch and at best can be described as visceral, but this precisely the reason why this film demands to be watched. 

(The Student is currently streaming on myNK)


The Student / Kirill Serebrennikov / Cannes Film Festival / Francois Chalais Prize

The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of The Film Hashery.

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