As part of a colossal art project, Ilya Khrzhanovsky has made an intimately eerie examination of the banality of evil

On its own terms, DAU. Natasha is a brutally queasy and stark picture of the life of a fictional woman who works in the staff canteen of a Stalin-era scientific research institute in Moscow, headed by theoretical physicist Lev Landau (nicknamed “Dau”). It shows us her quarrelsome relationship with her younger assistant Olga, who waits on tables while Natasha serves at the till. Eventually, the film gives us a look inside Room 101, with all its terror and squalor.

However, the film cannot simply be judged on its own terms, but as part of a gigantic (but mostly unseen and perhaps unseeable) whole: a colossal multimedia art installation project 15 years in the making that has become legend. Not least, this is because of its weird similarity to the folie de grandeur…

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