In the old days it was called hypochrondria, or black melancholia. Now, apparently, it’s termed the Asthenic Syndrome. Whatever it is, Nikolai, a teacher of epicly indifferent pupils, has got it, and it’s not much fun.
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a guy with gorbachev's portrait on his cap is searching for misha (mihail gorbachev) to announce him that kolia (nicolae ceausescu) has been killed. a school headmaster is called vissarion iossifovitch, because he wants to build a man totally opposed to the one that the historical iossif vissarionovitch had commanded. during the eighties, the russian alcoholic prohibition forced many to use thick shoeshine and slices
This Muratova lady is totally mad.
Was my response after the lights came on. But she with whom I saw it, who retains dim childhood memories of Soviet days and much clearer ones of the post-collapse years, shrugs and says of this long film, populated by sick, violent, insane people who routinely shout at each other, throw things at each other, and beat each other up: "She's just showing how it was. It's realism."
outer manifestation can seem exaggerated and misplaced (this doesn´t actually happen that way in "real life") but this is not about consequences and final expression. it´s about how it looks and feels from the inside. inner mise-en-scenes. if we would all speak our thoughts, colorfully expressed our pains with body-trembling, screams, jumps - it would look like this film.
Like a non-structural (prequel to) D’Est, but whereas Akerman is interested in documenting the post-Soviet atmosphere of elegiac reminiscence of a time that once was, Muratova captures the mass hysteria and neurosis during the transitional period of Perestroika whose side effects eventually led to collapse of the Soviet Union.
It's a monster! The world turned inside out. I just wish it was done in a more surreal way like the way Żuławski does it. The best part is when Nikolaj is visited in the loony bin by two women moving in synchronous motion.