According to the screenplay dogs should run into the funeral scene, rush to the grave, then to me and should fawn on me, sniff, bark…
But to tell the truth, they never got to my part.
Imagine the following: A coffin is placed on two planks above a rather deep grave. The priest throws a handful of earth down… here the dogs enter. Sausages and something else tasty are smeared on the coffin.
“Ready! Standby! Playback!”
Eight crazy hounds run in and throw themselves around the corner, barking and growling at some hole in the ground.
Their trainer swearing teaches them to sniff the coffin. The dogs glance back at the hole.
Dogs run in and head straight to the hole.
Sokurov comes to a decision instantly.
“There’s someone in the hole. Quick, dig another grave. Here!”
Not a problem for twelve prop handlers. All at once, ready!
The new grave is ready. The previous one is filled up. The light is moved and gravestones are brought to the new positions.
Dogs come running in and halt bewildered - there’s no hole any more.
Short conference follows. In the village below they borrow a cat in a bird’s cage for a lot of money. The dog trainer runs around teasing the dogs with the cage. The dogs are going nuts, the cat is yelling.
Sokurov’s idea is just genius. They put the cat into the coffin and nail the coffin shut.
Dogs come running in again looking for the cat or the hole.
The cat apparently lies unconscious after being nailed up in the coffin. No sound comes from her.
Sun comes up. Famous director of photography Bruno says “Fuck!!” rather loud. Everyone agrees.
Some meat is put in the grave. Dogs come running in and fawn upon Margareth. She’s screaming and crying and pleading for the poor cat. Big holes are drilled in the coffin to keep the cat from choking. Sokurov asks them not to drill the cat through. The technician: “She shouldn’t be that stupid, she will dodge the drill”. The cat’s owner speaks loudly to the coffin trying to calm her pet.
“Take five!! Camera…!! Action!! Stop!!”
The dogs have discovered the cage with a sheep in it and were too late for the shot. One more conference. The dog trainer gets into the grave holding a whistle. They let the cat out. The cat yells, her mistress holds her up in the air, dogs are jumping around.
Famous camera man Bruno: “Sun!!!”
The sun advances swiftly. Make-up people put powder on Margareth’s face. She’s happy for the cat.
Sokurov: “Margareth, look sternly. It’s your brother in the coffin!” Everyone laughs out hysterically.
Dog trainer blows his whistle! Dogs come running in and fall down into the grave one by one.
Sokurov: “Wonderful. Perfect! Done! It just can’t be… Thank you.”
Text: Anton Adasinsky
English text editor: Jennifer Williams