Blu-Ray Review: Khrustalyov, My Car!

I don’t think any modern director has painted a portrait of a living Hell quite so starkly and disquietingly as Aleksei German. His final film, Hard to be a God, was entirely unsettling in its depiction of an alternative reality/alien Medieval horrorscape. Like many of his eastern European colleagues, German became a victim of a repressive regime and only made six films throughout a career dogged by censorship and interference. In 1998 he made his greatest film, Khrustalyov, My Car!

On a seemingly normal day in early 1953, a top brain surgeon, General Yuri Klensky (Yuriy Tsurilo), is making his rounds at a hospital; going about his daily business without a care in the world. An important man, he lives with his family in an apartment in Moscow where he’s the top-dog. Then, suddenly, his world comes crashing down around him. The appearance of a double is the first clue that Yuri is being targeted in the anti-Semitic ‘doctor’s plot’ and must run for his life.

Khrustalyov, My Car! Is a bleached out monochrome mix of purgatorial realism, slapstick nihilism, emotionless brutality and surrealist nightmare. German’s satire takes no prisoners, making it a tough watch at times. The pace is relentless as the camera takes the audience deep into the heart of the action. Sputum and all. There have been very few directors like Aleksei German and Khrustalyov, My Car! Is a one of a kind.

Limited edition contents:

  • New 2K restoration from the original camera negative by Arrow Films
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
  • Original uncompressed 2.0 stereo Russian audio soundtrack
  • Newly translated English subtitles
  • Audio commentary by producer Daniel Bird
  • Between Realism and Nightmare, a new video essay on Khrustalyov, My Car! and the films of Aleksei German by historian and film critic Eugénie Zvonkine
  • Diagnosis Murder: Jonathan Brent on The Doctors’ Plot, the academic talks about Stalin’s anti-Semitic campaign which provides the backdrop for Khrustalyov, My Car!
  • Aleksei German, the veteran film historian and critic Ron Holloway interviews the Russian director
  • German… At Last, an interview with Aleksei German by producer Guy Séligmann
  • Re-release trailer
  • Double-sided fold-out poster
  • Limited edition 60-page booklet featuring new writing by Gianna D’Emilio, an archival essay by Joël Chaperon and original reviews

Khrustalyov, My Car! Is released on Blu-ray by Arrow Academy on 29 April.

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