Aug 182008

The conflict in Georgia got me thinking about Russian movies that feature Georgians. Are there any insights to be gained about Russian attitudes towards the people?

Mimino is a big one. The main character is Georgian. He is played as a good-hearted country bumpkin — he talks loudly on the phone, is quick-tempered, carries on an honorable feud, and is an all-around good guy. But now I wonder how the Georgians feel about this movie. The Georgian characters are treated sympathetically. Or is it condescension? It can be hard to tell the two apart in my own culture, so I wouldn’t dare to say how it comes across to someone else. Regardless, I thought it was a great movie.

There are a lot of other movies that deal with the Caucasus, but I don’t know if the Caucasians in them are Georgians. For example, there is “Kidnapping, Caucasion Style.” Those people in it — are they Georgians? And are the filmmakers having fun by stereotyping them? They wear some of the same style hats, if I remember correctly. Again, what do the ethnic groups being portrayed think of the movie? (Not that everyone should have the same opinion.)

“Depuis qu’Otar est partir” features Georgians and Russians, but that one is not a Russian film.


But in keeping with this blog’s mission to deal with the most trivial aspects of movies, I have to wonder about a Georgian references in Kin-dza-dza. One of the two main characters from planet earth is supposed to be Georgian, but what are we to make of that scene toward the end where Uef of planet Pluk says he had a Georgian mother? The two worlds are so different from each other, and had known nothing about each other. All of a sudden Uef says comes out with that line, but it generates no big surprise. I suspect an inside joke.

(Late edit – changed the title to make it more grammatical)


  • ///But now I wonder how the Georgians feel about this movie. The Georgian characters are treated sympathetically. Or is it condescension? ///

    I have to say that film director of “Mimino” is Georgiy Danelia. He is a Georgian. So, if in this film you see some jokes regarding Georgians, you may be sure it’s just kind self-ironia, not more. The same I can say regarding the jokes over Russian people in this movie.

    As for Kidnapping, Caucasion Style, there are not actual locals or actual Caucasus people. The filmmakers portrayed a common collective presentation of some Caucasus people not calling the geographic toponyms.

    …Yet I have to say the officials of modern Georgia’s government have very cold and impartial expression on own faces. It is very much dissonance with the commom presentation of Georgians as cheerful and emotional people. I guess that they learnt some psychological ways with the business trainning in Harvard or elsewhere. But many Russian people see the huge psychological difference between the high-officials of Georgia and usual Georgians.

    I have a feeling that part of Georgian politic elite put on own faces the masks. Alas, I think the Georgian elite went on wrong way.

    By the way, this “impartial mask” on Saakashvilli’s face allowed him to say very much crap in TV-interviews during South Ossetia war. I suppose that it was the element of well thought-out PR strategy. Yes, the West technologies are great thing.

  • Asya Pereltsvaig

    I agree with Alexander’s interpretations above. I should also add “The prisoner of the Caucasus” (different from the Gaiday comedy you mentioned). A more recent and not at all funny film:

  • Natan Kumanov

    Are you sure you (or the translators) got the language right? I don’t remember that episode at all — apparently, it did not appear important to me. That was not a movie of quick jokes, after all. Maybe he did not intend to tell the truth and followed a goal other than telling the truth, and made clear the goal he followed?

  • Natan, it’s at 49:56 in this YouTube version.

  • Natan Kumanov

    The before of Uef’s line is that why couldn’t his mother have been a Georgian? After all, transportation between the two worlds is relatively easy, feasible enough. I couldn’t identify any joke in this line.

    If you’d like to ask me for the behind of this line, then Uef was (as I see it) willing to demonstrate his compassion for Gedevan. Perhaps he was lying (that’s why he corrects himself: in order not to feel himself lying). Lying, but most likely not deceiving, i.e. he probably did not have any special purpose for this lie (I now didn’t watch the part before the time you posted a link to),

    By the way, do you know that Mosfilm posted its old films in its own website, without ads (it seems)? Here’s the link:

  • Natan Kumanov

    In the case that sounds cryptic. The word “свой” that was spoken before the line, meant “I belong to your kind”, “I am like you”. That is a way to show compassion. That was not a lie, that was a demonstration of intention: to be perceived as “свой”, i.e. inside the circle of kindred people. Then, to make that statement more наглядным (how to say it? well, let me say “transparent”), Uef said (most likely lied) that “his mother a Georgian… was” (the sentence “моя мама грузинка была” is grammatically correct, but Uef first says a different version of it, such that means that she is a Georgian still). That was not a deception, but an opportunity to express his compassion in the most transparent way (наиболее наглядно).

    Note that “Newton was a philosopher from England” translates in Russian as “Ньютон — английский философ” (he is said to be one now, because he never changed his quality); it is possible to say “Ньютон был английским философом”, and it means the same thing, but it is less likely to use. Check the two versions of the article on Newton in Wikipedia, if you like.