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.