Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Twelfth Chair

I was watching the 1971 version of 12 Chairs the other night, with Archil Gomiashvili as Ostap Bender.  Great visual and comic feast.  This is a very nice transfer , unfortunately no English subs.  You can say Russians reclaimed Ilf and Petrov's classic novel after numerous foreign adaptations, including Mel Brooks' 1970 version.  There was also a 1976 Soviet version with Andrei Mironov in the lead.

It is often thought comedy gets lost in translation.  Mark Twain commented on this in his essay, The Awful German Language.  While it is hard to find fault with Twain, I think comedy is visually specific as well.  Ilf and Petrov relied on a number of "word images" that simply don't carry the same resonance in any other language than Russian.  The films help restore some of that humor.

The 1971 film was wonderfully inventive with amusing cartoon sketches mixed in, similar to the Monty Python Circus.  Of course, the great Andrei Mironov was fantastic to watch in the 1976 television mini-series.

The monument is located at Deribassovskaya Street, Odessa.  You have to love Bender's hat and suitcase in the picture.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Waiting for the Sun

I watched part of Dom Solntsa the other night on Russian TV 1000.  The theme and production values are very similar to Valeri Todorovski's Stilyagi, but the time frame is the 1970s and the rise of the Soviet hippie culture.  The director, Garik Sukachev, is steeped in this era.  He published a book in 2007, which served as the script for the movie.   He pays tribute to pioneer rock band, Mashina Vremeni, in a very amusing scene where the band takes over a Soviet concert with a stature of Lenin behind them.

As in Hipsters, we see a young person turn her back on the party line and join a counter culture group.  In this case, Sasha chooses to turn her back on her parents and join this band of misfits, led by Solntsa, a golden haired version of Jim Morrison. They flee the confines of Moscow for the coastline of Crimea.  This seaside resort area has been featured in a number of Russian movies as of late.  Unfortunately, it is hard to track down a copy of The House of Sun (2010), so I hope to catch it next time around on TV1000.

Here is a film clip.