Rogozhkin has managed to
step away from realism into [...] a parable without any artificial and
Everything is so life-like that it is hard to believe: the absurdity is
deep-rooted, palpable, and routine. The charming mountain girl brings her
deaf mute sister for the Russian soldiers' sexual pleasure, and they pay for
it with bullets with which the girl later shoots at them. Soldiers openly
negotiate with the enemy about the purchase of dope and the temporary
neutralization of the sharpshooter.
— Dmitrii Bykov, Iskusstvo kino [Film Art] 5 (1999). p 68.
The film is unconventional as it portrays war as endless waiting and sitting
around (is this what Sam Fuller meant when he said cinema is life warfare?)
Checkpoint is antiwar but not really pacifist. It depicts the
conflict as a sequence of arbitrary daily events tinged with humor and
humanity. One of the soldiers narrates the film, and his voiceover counting
the days is reminiscent of a Wong Kar Wai film — where time is always
too slow for the characters, events come out of nowhere and life is a
struggle against boredom.
The film's denouement implodes like a vacumn. Any sense of well-being that
the film had imparted up to that point palpably drained from the theater in
three short seconds. It is this clincher that makes Checkpoint a
disconcerting and powerful statement. Its structure is like a fragile hollow
sphere on which each scene is carefully painted, only to be crushed
mindlessly on completion. The film strips war of its meaning just as war
strips life of its meaning.
— Eugene Chew, '99 Sydney Film Festival review ("Toto: Cinema Matters")
Aleksandr Rogozhkin (1949) completed a degree in history
at Leningrad University and worked as an art designer at the Leningrad TV
and Lenfilm Studios. In 1982, he graduated from the State Institute of
Cinematography, where he studied under Sergei Gerasimov. Rogozhkin's
films Peculiarities of the National Hunt (1995) and its sequel,
Peculiarities of National Fishing (1998) became Russian
blockbusters. Rogozhkin also directed several episodes of the most
popular Russian TV police procedural, Street of Broken Lights.
In 1999, Checkpoint received several international awards and
the Grand Prix at the Kinotavr Film Festival in Sochi.