The film opens with a daytime aerial shot over Moscow superimposed with opening credits for one minute and thirty-two seconds; then we get another thirty seconds of opening credits over Moscow at night. That equals two pages of stage direction. I realize that opening credits are necessary, but why did the director move from a daytime to a nighttime aerial over Moscow?
Perhaps the director, Vladimir Menshov, wanted his foreign audiences to realize that they were viewing Moscow, a perception that was best realized if the aerial shot were filmed during daylight, other viewers familiar with the Moscow nightline would immediately comprehend where the story begins. When I noticed this, I anticipated a script that was written to entertain both Russian and foreign audiences.
The only difficulty I experienced was interpreting Russian dialogue and symbolism indicative of the Soviet Union in 1958; there were certain scenes that were clearly “over my head. ” For example, in an early scene, Lyudmilla questions Katerina about a poet and his poem and shortly thereafter we watch a man condemned for placing his arm around a woman’s shoulder by a small group of people wearing red armbands. Was this the director’s intention for showing the audience what Moscow was like in 1958?
Shots of an avant-garde poet in the square standing next to a statue of a political figure (presumption) and reading poetry, forbidden displays of public affection-as innocent as placing an arm around the opposite sex–the shots worked with me, especially when Lyudmilla questioned the poem, but I was suspicious when the girls were unmindful of the “kissing police. ” I enjoyed the film, nonetheless, because of the character development by the screenwriter, Valentin Chernykh, who created believable characters with all the pain and struggle of Russian life.
I made a dumb mistake and rented a dubbed version of the film, but my overall impression was good and the first act of the woman’s dormitory was a recognizable plot that I anticipated would hit with some funny and awkward scenes. The idea that three young factory workers living together in a dormitory in search of a successful man-and two of them getting the chance of posing as university students living at home with a fabricated professor father when Katerina minds her Aunts apartment in the prestigious section of Moscow-was an energetic theme. Each girl has their own individualities that make them successful characters in the film.
They are the type of characters that we see in American films. Lyudmilla, conniving and ambitious and usually ends up least happy; Antonina, timid and has less prominence in the film but endures, and, Katerina, the leading character, independent and motivated. I enjoy multiple character single action films. I tend to cling on to one character throughout the film, or at least until my character does something disapproving. My hook was Katerina, but I later switched to Gosha because he was an honest and intelligent character that maintained a curious personality throughout the film.
I liked Katerina in the beginning of the film because of her honesty and intelligence, but grew to dislike her for not informing the camera man that she was pregnant with his child, for not informing her daughter of the that same fact, for being a mistress, and for her coldness and dishonesty to Gosha in their relationship. I think the success of this film is attributable to the time of its release. An article concerning the modern problems of Russian cinema in what it terms: “the transition period,” discusses the decline in Russian cinema since the period of perestroika-glasnost, the years 1986-1991.
[T]he late 1980s, the average Russian went to see films fourteen times a year, the world’s highest movie going figure. [… ] The average Russian went to see a film less than once a year in 1996. [… ] State funding shrank for cinema, as did family budgets. [… ] if Russians went to a movie theater, it was for a foreign, probably an American film. [… ] The film critic Daniel Dondurei summed up the general inclinations of the Russian viewer this way: ‘Russian films shot before Chernenko [i. e. , before 1984] always win over films from late Gorbachev times.
All the old Soviet films compete remarkably with the freshest American crop. But new Russian cinema loses to both. ‘ (Menashe). I think that Russian cinema is in revival due to independent production companies. Independent films are expanding steadfastly onto television, and both single and multi-screen theaters throughout the world. I think if this film had been produced in 2002 it would be considered an independent film not because of its budget (I believe it was made for 300k) but due to its human aspect quality and lack of special effects.
I thought the film was successful in conflict and realism, too, but I thought the editing could have been better. Several scenes did not fit, for example, one scene when Gosha and his friend fought a group of teenage boys antagonizing Alexandra’s boyfriend. By that point in the film, the audience already knows Gosha’s fatherly trait. I thought Gosha became a strong character in the film, but a too late. Menshov should have introduced Gosha early in the film, but nonchalantly and briefly; let the audience anticipate his reappearance. Another thought I had was that the narrative was not strong.
The characters conflicts continue to play out in a collage with no real resolution at the end. The audience does not walk away with the feeling that the girls have found success or wisdom in companionship other than the failed relationship of Lyudmilla and her continued quest for a prosperous man and Katerina’s remark that she has been searching for a man like Gosha for a long time.
Works Cited Menashe, Louis. Moscow Believes In Tears (the challenges of post-Soviet Russian cinema). ;http://galenet. galegroup. com/servlet/SRC/hits;$sessionid$BQFHIBYAAE2YHJOBNJRAAAA? ;.