16 August 2014 @ 06:53 pm
Russian Swashbuckle!  
Black Lightning trailer here), a Russian sf adventure film about a flying car.

The Hussar Ballad, made in 1963. Full of adventure, romance, passion, elegance and war, with a cross-dressing heroine faking it as a Hussar, it's terrific entertainment--even if I can't understand a word. At least it's there on YouTube, which leads me to hope that someone might come along and redo it with subtitles. Hey, it happened with the superlative Russian historical drama 17 Moments of Spring.

I'm pretty sure it has to be based on The Cavalry Maiden, by Nadezhda Durova, one of the first published autobiographies in Russian. I wonder if Tolstoi used it as part of his research for the intensely detailed and resonately realistic battle of Borodino sequence in War and Peace. The film greatly romanticizes Durova's experiences, which she recounts with trenchant reality, even if she finesses stuff like her age and her lovers.

Watching this delightful film, it's weird to think of the height of the Cold War in the background. Makes me wonder if someone a hundred years hence is going to look at history during my own lifetime and think it the surreal dream of a dyspeptic entrepreneur. Give me my romance, please.
 
 
( 27 comments — Leave a comment )
Lucy Kemnitzerritaxis on August 17th, 2014 05:07 am (UTC)
Oh thank you so much. I need these.
Sherwood Smithsartorias on August 17th, 2014 09:25 am (UTC)
:-)
dandelion wineegelantier on August 17th, 2014 09:57 am (UTC)
hussar ballad is most definitely based on the cavalry maiden (by the way, the video you're linking to DOES seem to have english subtitles, if you turn captions on?)

if you're looking for a pinnacle of russian cinematic swashbuckling, it's d'artagnan and three musketeers. i do still think, despite the fact that it's a musical shot in a style of outdoors larping session, it's the best - or at least, the truest-to-spirit-of-original - dumas adaptation ever. and d'artagnan, played by michail boyarsky, plagued the dreams of many generations of young girls (including mine, of course).
Oho: footprintoho on August 17th, 2014 12:20 pm (UTC)
Was that an adaptation of Dumas' 'Les Trois Mousquetaires'? I think I watched it once or rather tried to watch it and can not think of anything more tasteless and dull.

I'd say that would be a general description of any soviet movie – cheap, B-movie acting, full of moralising nonsense and targeted for low-educated labour class people. Why someone could find something like that to be the ‘dreams of many generation’?
Sherwood Smithsartorias on August 17th, 2014 01:20 pm (UTC)
Well, it obviously worked for a lot of people. One person's tasteless tripe is someone else's spark of inspiration.
Ohooho on August 17th, 2014 03:26 pm (UTC)
It worked for a lot of people purely due to lack of choice.

Very few foreign movies were shown to the soviet audience and those that were allowed were chosen solely based on their rubbishes so the soviet cinema looked “much better” comparing to what was made outside the country.

A very good sample would be this ‘masterpiece’ that "inspired generations" over there -
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0080836/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1
Sherwood Smithsartorias on August 17th, 2014 03:40 pm (UTC)
What did you think of "17 Moments of Spring"?
Ohooho on August 17th, 2014 04:06 pm (UTC)
I think that was 100% Soviet propaganda and glorification of Soviet secret services.

Russian state TV mandatory was broadcasting it twice per year (similarly to ‘d'artagnan and three musketeers’ by the way) so everyone in the country knew every single line from the movie. The propaganda machine then used those lines as citation arguments as people eventually believed the events in the movie were real.

In terms of casting, plot, cinematography etc “17 Moments of Spring" was somewhere in 1930-s by western standards while was produced in 1973 (the movie is B&W, most of scenes shot by a static camera, just one storyline for the 12-episodes season and on and on and on).

Nevertheless the Soviet cinema produced a few good works. E.g.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0079944/?ref_=fn_al_tt_3
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0069293/?ref_=nv_sr_2
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0091759/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0096126/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

I might remember a few more but after movies like http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0443455/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1 I’d say it does not worth remembering that at all.
Sherwood Smithsartorias on August 17th, 2014 04:08 pm (UTC)
You sound like a very tough critic. I look forward to checking out the links you provided. Thank you!
Sherwood Smithsartorias on August 17th, 2014 04:13 pm (UTC)
I remember hearing about Solaris, way back when. Maybe when I was studying in Vienna? I don't recollect if it was released in Western Europe, or students were talking about it. Maybe there was a bootleg copy? I never saw it, but I remember the talk.
Ohooho on August 17th, 2014 04:25 pm (UTC)
‘Solaris’ is based on a Sci-Fi novel by Stanislaw Lem. He is not quite known outside the Eastern Block but apparently his works started emerging as they have a good postmodern philosophical value.

This movie http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1821641/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_5 is based on his another novel and I found it to be the best movie on the postmodernism subject I ever watched.


Edited at 2014-08-17 04:28 pm (UTC)
Sherwood Smithsartorias on August 17th, 2014 04:29 pm (UTC)
Oh, Lem is pretty well known in more academic SF circles. My spouse did a paper deconstructing his work some 25 years ago. More like thirty. I'd totally forgotten the connection. My memory is primarily visual; I recollect something about that film, though that was in the early seventies, and the details are gone.

I'll try "Funny Ha Ha" though mumblecore is not particularly interesting. I knew too many scrabbling experimental filmmakers 1969-72--participated in their films myself, in some cases, More recent mumble core seems to me to tread familiar ground.

Computer Chess in on Netflix streaming, so I have it in my queue. My watching time is done when I'm on the exercise bike. Thanks!
Κόρηkore_on_dw on August 17th, 2014 09:08 pm (UTC)
John Updike reviewed "Chain of Chance" in the New Yorker in 1975.
Κόρηkore_on_dw on August 17th, 2014 09:12 pm (UTC)
Yeah, Solaris won a big prize at Cannes (not the Palme d'Or I think) and was pretty famous in the art-house circles in the mid-seventies, even here in the US. I think I saw it on the Bravo network a couple of times in the eighties. (Actually the Soderbergh remake is really good too, if you ever run out of movies to check out in this thread! heh.)
Sherwood Smithsartorias on August 17th, 2014 09:44 pm (UTC)
Cool!
dandelion wineegelantier on August 17th, 2014 03:43 pm (UTC)
oh come on. nobody was arguing the superiority of soviet cinema - and if you reread my original comment more carefully, you'd see that i said "d'artagnan, played by michail boyarsky, plagued the dreams of many generations of young girls" - which he did! he was a soviet swashbuckling sex symbol in a pretty hat with feathers!

for the record, i was born in 1985, and so i'm not out of your hypothetical unwashed masses unfamiliar with greatness of foreign movies (mmm, vhs tapes). and i still love the soviet musketeers and think, that despite working with very limited resources (hence the 'larping styles') comment, it was heartfelt, funny, properly dramatic in all the appropriate places, possessed certain noble craziness, AND managed to adapt the novel more or less straight, omitting steampunk dirigibles, ninja assassins and other superficial nonsense. it captured the sprawling, slightly amoral cheerfulness of the original pretty well.

your mileage, of course, is welcome to vary.
Sherwood Smithsartorias on August 17th, 2014 03:45 pm (UTC)
I'm going to watch that next after I finish the Hussars with subtitles!
Ohooho on August 17th, 2014 04:16 pm (UTC)
:-) Do not watch it, it's rubbish.

Better spare an hour for "Funny ha ha' (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0327753/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1 ) or 'Computer chess' (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2007360/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1 )

both are best samples of mumblecore, full of sub-text and truly enjoyable to watch.
Sherwood Smithsartorias on August 17th, 2014 04:18 pm (UTC)
Both of these look good. I'll see if they are on Netflix, or failing that, YouTube.
Sherwood Smithsartorias on August 17th, 2014 01:17 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the link--and the advice! (Now I have to figure out how to turn captions on... the other show has subtitles, I wonder how I can find these?)
dandelion wineegelantier on August 17th, 2014 01:41 pm (UTC)
you have to turn captions on under the video. hope it works!
Sherwood Smithsartorias on August 17th, 2014 01:43 pm (UTC)
thanks--will try. (There is nobody in the entire universe more stupid about computer things than I.)
obzor_inolitobzor_inolit on August 17th, 2014 10:51 am (UTC)
Watching this delightful film, it's weird to think of the height of the Cold War in the background *

Hehe, sunny movies are made in the darkest times, too.

Yes, the movie is based on the fact that Nadezda Durova existed (I must read her memoirs one day, I've read some fragments but I don't remember anything). The plot is full of classic comedy elements.

All in all, the 1812 war stayed in the mass imagination as something deliciously romantic, pretty uniforms, nice horses etc http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z93iEzg4ozA

The French have had quite different impressions, of course. Do you know, by the way, that Stendal was in Moscow then?
obzor_inolitobzor_inolit on August 17th, 2014 10:55 am (UTC)
Ah, and I should add "the 1812 war stayed in the mass imagination OF THE NEXT GENERATIONS as something deliciously romantic, pretty uniforms, nice horses)... and the War and Peace version, where people die, exists somehow apart of this romantic fairy tale...
Sherwood Smithsartorias on August 17th, 2014 01:18 pm (UTC)
Yeah, that's why I call it swashbuckle, rather than a war movie, which of course 17 Moments of Spring is closer to.
asakiyume: highwaymanasakiyume on August 17th, 2014 08:56 pm (UTC)
These exciting real-life histories reminded me of something I found out about I guess on Twitter? that you might be interested in--a Frenchwoman's account of being captured by Chinese pirates (translated into English). I've only just skimmed through it, enough to see that it's very conventional in it's language and in **expressed** social attitudes, and yet the woman herself was unmarried and traveling alone--which in itself is interesting. Here's a link--you may get to reading it more quickly than I do!

Black Lightning looks fun. The Hussar Ballad too, but alas, it's very rare for me to watch a whole movie on my computer--fingers crossed that one day it appears on DVD.
Sherwood Smithsartorias on August 17th, 2014 08:58 pm (UTC)
Yeah, watching a movie on the computer is not something I can do but in spurts, when I am too tired to work, but too wired to sleep.

Thanks for the link!
( 27 comments — Leave a comment )