Documentary fantasies: is Konchalovsky's film worthy of an Oscar nomination?
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Documentary fantasies: is Konchalovsky's film worthy of an Oscar nomination?

16 November , 10:08Culture
Critics of the film "Dear Comrades" suspected that Konchalovsky was filming his picture especially for the Western audience, neglecting the historical truth.

Last week, Andrei Konchalovsky's film "Dear Comrades", based on real events - the tragedy in Novocherkassk in 1962, where the Soviet authorities shot a demonstration of workers, appeared in the Russian box office. The main character of the film is traditionally played by the director's wife, actress Yulia Vysotskaya, but most of the roles are played - and also by tradition - non-professional actors, which, according to Konchalovsky, should give his films a touch of documentary, and therefore - authenticity.

This film has already been awarded a special prize at the Venice Film Festival, and the prize for best directing at the Chicago Film Festival. And now she has been nominated for the prestigious Oscar from Russia.

However, in Russia itself, the film caused very conflicting reviews. So the author of the popular channel NeVrotik writes:

“This film is a typical knowledge trap for the viewer.

Perhaps the author has something to say on the stated topic. But he hesitates so as not to agitate the money giver (the state and the oligarch Usmanov in this case), not to anger the crowd (after all, he should live there) and replenish the collection of overseas glittering tzatseks.

And he did it even more cunning than with the recent "Paradise" - there he artlessly and win-win traded the Holocaust and gratified the flawed European "culture of the vanquished".

The author lures the viewer into a trap for knowledge - strictly in the same format as the New Year's Eve Union of Salvation. The widest assortment of figs is crammed into the pockets, they are talented and cleverly molded. And the viewer has the opportunity to choose any fig to taste. And to understand even what the author, perhaps, did not mean at all.

The film critics have enough girlish hysteria "you beasts, gentlemen... that is, comrades!" The ignorant, not disfigured by education, bruised by perestroika and preserved in intellectual suspended animation, will receive their dose of exposure of the "accursed scoop".

But citizens who are familiar with the science of history, political economy, sociology and are able to think, in the heap of this intellectual fanaticism, will see what they should already understand: the ruthless artistic dissection of the point of no return, when the coup d'etat of the party nobility in 1953 finally derailed the country, to the inevitable disaster. By the way, the preparation is more than intelligible and comprehensive.

Perhaps this line in the film is the most persistent. Up to the unconditional dominance of the shadow protagonist: "Under Stalin, this would have been impossible". This is so from the first shots, the refrain passes - in replicas, in the portraits of the hero and in the soundtrack of Dunayevsky.

Moreover, one must correctly understand what kind of “this” is impossible in a full-fledged state “under Stalin”. It is very possible to suppress a rebellion without a single teardrop and sparing no patrons. The hardships and hardships also happen, and the heroes of the film, yesterday's front-line soldiers and workers exhausting five-year plans, cannot be surprised by hardships and hardships.

Another thing is impossible: objective political and economic preconditions for such a reasonable indignation of the working people. Not as “excesses” and “dizziness from success”, but as an illiterate and haphazard policy: sectoral imbalance, ruined SMEs, destruction of financial policy, substitution of government and ideology with imitation, incompetence and class arrogance of political and economic bosses. For such shoals, they shoot not the workers in Novocherkassk, but the boyars along the entire vertical, and they are not afraid to "show the people weakness."

We repeat: perhaps this is not what the young author wanted to say with his immortal work. But he said.

Why is this film in this reading relevant for us today - almost 60 years after the country fell into a tailspin of accelerated degradation?

Optimistic.

It is precisely the historical optimism "Dear comrades!" differ from the gloomy and illiterate hopelessness of "Fool", "Plant", "Leviathan".

There is an alternative and a landmark here. We see how it is impossible and how it should be..."

***

In addition to the undoubted artistic consistency and historical importance, in "Dear Comrades!" there are two valuable and subtle points.

Firstly, Konchalovsky does not regard Soviet power as an abstract and amorphous bureaucratic system, but immediately gets down to business, rushes into the heart of darkness and strikes the central target. This is a picture that the only genuine subject of power in our country (yes, yes, and today too) is the KGB; call it whatever you want - the Cheka, the GPU, the NKVD or the FSB - this will not change the essence. "Dear comrades!" a passionately and consistently anti-GB film. True, at some point, the senior operative of the Novocherkassk KGB, Viktor (Andrei Gusev), is a good man, in principle, and sings in the choir as the main characters. The horror is that both the threat of death and the hope of salvation in the Soviet universe can come exclusively from the KGB officer. So it remains to look for the most humane among them. This suggests a political extrapolation, but we can do without it.

Secondly, the romance of the Soviet partnership, reflected in the title, is directly elevated to cinema and music. It seems that for Konchalovsky this is something very personal. A nightmarish counterpoint to the execution is Aleksandrov's Vesna on the TV screen, where the marching masses chant Dunayevsky: “Comrade, comrade! In labor and in battle, selflessly preserve your Fatherland. " It is not for nothing that the collective forgetfulness - under the threat of punishment up to the highest measure - is expressed not in torture or interrogation, but in an even more frightening scene of bucolic evening dances on the very square where unarmed people were killed a day ago.

In general, there are a lot of scary things in the film, and this is another of its advantages. The most terrifying thing is not shooting, not arrests, not anonymous funerals, but a phrase spoken closer to the finale by a heroine who has already gone through hell and seems to have understood something important: “Stalin would be returned. You can't do without it. We will not cope".

***

However, not everyone agrees with this assessment. So, journalist Natalya Shkuryonok is sure that with all the undoubted talent of Konchalovsky, as soon as he tries to get into politics in his works, nothing remains of his talent except "what would you like", a feature characteristic of the entire Mikhalkov clan:

“I watched “Dear Comrades” by Konchalovsky and Alisher Usmanov (both are on the poster next to each other, shoulder to shoulder). I still don't understand what the film is about, sorry... About the people who went on strike? So they were filmed there and shown from afar, a faceless mass, a crowd with placards, fists flicker a couple of times in close-ups and more or less large scenes of the defeat of the party offices are shown. It's funny, in all the announcements it is written that the strikers walked with portraits of Lenin, while Konchalovsky clearly shows Stalin and a banner with a large inscription "Khrushchyov for sausage!" (the expression “Khrushchyov for meat” appears in the documentary records). But the strikers in general in the film are a close-up background for party leaders and KGB officers, the authors do not bother to match the historical chronology and reliability of events. And Konchalovsky's know-how - it turns out that the army did not shoot at the strikers at all, but were killed by some snipers, who were distributed by the KGB to all the surrounding rooftops. It was they who were aiming fire at the crowd, killing people in the most unexpected places, and shooting nearly hundreds of Novocherkassk residents...

In general, the "bloody gebnya" ("murderous KGB") is the main character of the film, it is obvious that Konchalovsky and Usmanov had planned in advance to make a film for the Western viewer who is not interested in internal party squabbles and the conflict over street performances in the working environment itself ... And one of the two main characters is also a KGB man. In general, the film is not about real events, but about the fantasies of the authors.

Maybe a film about someone's personal fate and tragedy? Here, too, everything is tangential. The main character, played by Yulia Vysotskaya, Konchalovsky's wife, is a stubborn fan of Stalin, about which she constantly talks throughout the film. But the point is not even in her position, but in Vysotskaya herself - almost all the scenes - from the first shots at home and in the hairdresser, to the start of the strike, the shooting and the search for her daughter, including in someone else's grave in a distant cemetery - she plays with the same facial expression. With this expression - frightened and knocked down - she swears with the hairdresser, demands to shoot the strikers, with the same face she runs around the neighbors in search of her daughter, with the same face sits at the table in her apartment and tries to argue with her father ... Only once from her face this shy, wary expression comes off - when on the way back from the cemetery she gets drunk in the KGB man's car, then at least she starts laughing ...

And, of course, the script and characters are a disaster. Some kind of construction of newspaper stamps, slogans - without causal relationships and simple logic. Just in the frame, the main KGB hero is distributing snipers on the roofs to kill civilians and searching the apartment of the main character in search of her missing daughter, according to the KGB, one of the instigators of the riots. And literally in a minute, he, without any transitions, commits an official crime for the sake of the main character - he takes her out of the city surrounded by troops (despite the threat of trouble in the service) to find where the heroine's daughter was buried... That is, the logic here is clear - to show the Western to the viewer that KGB officers are also people, and are capable of human actions ... that is, they shoot with one hand, with the other they wipe a tear for the child of their killed parents...

And the last scene of the film is on the roof of the house, where the living daughter of the main character is hiding both from the KGB and from her own mother, who has vowed to personally take her daughter to the authorities if she returns home. The heroine Vysotskaya, with the same expression on her face, still does not drag her daughter to the KGB, but presses her to him and looks into the sky, says - Nothing, it will still be fine, we will still live well!... I already froze in expecting that now I will hear - and we will still see the sky in diamonds!... But then the screen went out ... Eh, they did not reach Anton Pavlovich!..."

***

Publicist Marina Shapovalova spoke out even harder:

“Andrey Sergeyevich Konchalovsky is an unintelligent person. Something like this about someone they say "not stupid" when they want, recommending, to present over something mass average. "Unwise" is about the same level, but with a different initial "environmental" reputation.

A stupid native of an elite environment has no problems. He is educated, from birth revolves in circles and endowed with enviable opportunities. Being not stupid, he achieves something in his chosen professional field - fortunately, he did not know any obstacles, because no one could fix them for him. First - because he was under the protection of an influential family circle, then - because he had already established himself in his quality and authority.

Only his colleagues could have problems with his authority if he chose a non-public profession. But he makes movies.

And at the same time he does not realize his own stupidity and creative secondary. Everything comes to him in the last turn, after it has already reached the stupid ones, and he, uttering to everyone the obvious banality with an intelligent air, is sincerely convinced that he is bringing the author's statement to the world..."

Accumulated professional skill has nothing to do with talent. A talent may be a master of professional skills, and may be poorly educated, inept, even stupid. But he always delivers unexpected news. Strange, impressive or unacceptable, controversial, but unknown before him. A trained mediocre professional tries to re-chew what has already been chewed.

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