Bill Morrison • United States • 2021 • A meditative journey into Soviet history and film.
During the summer of 2016, a fishing boat off the shores of Iceland made a most curious catch—four reels of 35mm film, seemingly of Soviet provenance. The canister was preserved by hydrogen sulfide fumes from undersea lava, filtering between two tectonic plates. Rather than a major lost work, however, archivists discovered an incomplete print of a popular Soviet comedy from 1969, starring the beloved Russian actor Mihail Žarov. The film’s appearance fittingly resembles the career of Žarov himself, who re-emerges from the bottom of the sea 50 years later like a Russian Rip Van Winkle, to a world where reels of film are as antiquated as the Soviet Union.
Accompanied by a gorgeous score by Pulitzer and Grammy-winning composer David Lang, The Village Detective: A Song Cycle meditates on cinema’s past while offering a journey into Soviet history and film. From the director of Dawson City: Frozen Time, Bill Morrison’s documentary premiered at Rotterdam, Telluride, Reykjavik and Doclisboa. The Village Detective: A Song Cycle is a New York Times Critic’s Pick.