For Sokurov the military theme has long been interpreted as an existential one and so service on the frontiers, be they land or sea, becomes a metaphor for human behaviour. Compulsory military service, an institution that remains in the shattered civic life of Russia, is viewed by the film–maker as an essential feature of reality, something that touches everyone — males and females, those who have served in the army, those who have avoided it. It is a life of submission, a lack of freedom, a dependence on circumstances, of seclusion and the monotony of the daily routine. It's not just the people stuck in the frontier patrol ship, putting out to sea, who appreciate this — everyone knows what it means. Sokurov's camera transforms the details it captures drawn from real people, the military seamen (including the principal protagonist, the Ship Commander) and the circumstance of their actual daily routine, into characters in a story. The young Commander's troubled meditations about his fate and profession are incorporated by Sokurov into the dialogue and he comes to be the film–maker's alter–ego. As in “Spiritual Voices,” the chronicle rejects the expected (televisual) structure and becomes a form of traditional narrative — a lyrical diary.
Alexandra Tuchinskaya English translation by Tatiana Ussova with assistance from Benjamin Halligan. http://sokurov.spb.ru