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(aka "Palata N6" )


directed by Aleksandr Gornovsky and Karen Shakhnazarov
Russia 2009


Anton Chekov's short story "Ward No. 6" is updated and adapted as a fictional documentary in which a film crew seeks to find out how Dr. Ragin (Vladimir Ilin, BURNT BY THE SUN) ended up in the lunatic ward of his own asylum. The crew interviews his housekeeper (Albina Yevtushevskaya), his friend Mikhail (Aleksandr Pankratov-Chyornyy, A CRUEL ROMANCE), guard Nikita (Viktor Solovyov, TWO DRIVERS), and Ragin's replacement Dr. Khobotov (Evgeniy Stychkin, NIGHT NURSES) about Ragin's lifestyle and his interest in one of the residents of Ward No. 6 - Gromov (Aleksey Vertkov) - who he believed to be a prophet (Ragin himself is not interviewed because he suffered a stroke soon after his confinement and was struck numb). Through confrontational discussions with Gromov, Ragin realizes that he has trapped himself in the vicious circle of his own theoretical philosophy of life, which results in a depression that has concerned friend Mikhail steering towards both religion and vice (a trip to Moscow includes visits to a shrine and a strip club) and an opportunity for the younger Khobotov to oust him. The true back-story of the asylum where the film was shot was that it was a monastery built upon the site of a wooden chapel. It later became a TB hospital and then eventually a mental hospital (it actually had become a monastery again at the time of filming). This parallel's Ragin's own back-story as a would-be cleric whose father threatened to disown him if he did not go into medicine, resulting in a passionless life that finds him neither psychologically or spiritually helpful to the sick. Anna Sinyakina plays both a nun in the opening medieval flashback - one of two who accompanied a monk to the site where the wooden chapel was erected - and then appears again as another mental patient who dances with Ragin at the asylum's Christmas party. The film is a bit uneven, with the interview scenes more compelling than most of the flashbacks (save for those scenes between Ilin and Vertkov), and subtle underscoring seems to be only introduced when the scenes feel limp. Solovyov and Pankratov-Chyornyy also come off well in their individual scenes.

Eric Cotenas


Theatrical Release: 27 November 2009 (USA)

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DVD Review: Artificial Eye - Region 0 - PAL

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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Artificial Eye

Region 0 - PAL

Runtime 1:23:00 (4% PAL speedup)

1.78:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.6 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio Russian Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo
Subtitles English, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Artificial Eye

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
• Dominoes and Checkers documentary (16:24)
• Theatrical Trailer (16:9; 1:25)

DVD Release Date: 11 July 2011

Chapters 12



Artificial Eye's single-layer transfer seems to represent the film well (being a mix of HD and intentionally harsh-looking consumer-grade digital video scanned to 35mm film). The 2.0 audio mainly consists of dialogue and the optional English subtitles are well-rendered (although they fail to translate some shouted offscreen dialogue by some of the mental patients). The "Dominoes and Checkers" documentary features longer versions of the interviews that comprise the opening sequence of the feature.

A reportedly inferior R1 edition is available from Kino with burnt-in subtitles and no extras.

  - Eric Cotenas


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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:


Artificial Eye

Region 0 - PAL



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