Feb 182009


The van driver in this 1979 movie is angry at Buzykin, the character played by Oleg Basilashvili, who was preoccupied with problems caused by the competing attentions needed by his wife and his girlfriend. Buzykin wasn’t watching where he was going, and got nicked by the van. The subtitle is of angry words from the driver.

It’s interesting in that three years later, Basilashvili was in another movie in which this same standard of justice was the premise. In “Vokzal dlya dvoikh,” his wife hit a pedestrian in the dark. Since the pedestrian wasn’t drunk, the driver was assumed to be at fault. Basilashvili’s character took the rap for his wife, which meant three years in a Siberian gulag.

It seems to represent a little different standard than we have in the U.S. Bicyclists here are constantly reporting cases of drivers who get off way too easy after hitting a bicyclist, and it would be pretty much the same for hitting a pedestrian, too. Most likely a case between a driver and a careless pedestrian who wandered into traffic would not be decided in favor of the pedestrian unless the driver was drunk or speeding, and even then it’s sometimes difficult to get a conviction of the driver — especially if the driver has good connections.

But judging from these two Russian movies ca 1980, the driver is almost presumed guilty unless proven innocent. I don’t know if that’s the way it worked in real life, and if so, whether it still works that way. Also, I would expect the case of the politically- or economically- well connected driver to work pretty much the same as here. But I don’t think you’d ever have a U.S. movie in which the driver would bawl out a careless pedestrian the way this one did. It just wouldn’t relate to anything in real life. The driver might be concerned with the emotional trauma of having to live with the knowledge that he killed someone, but a sober driver obeying the traffic laws wouldn’t be be particularly fearful of being sent to prison.


  • Natan Kumanov

    I am too young to be sure, but my default interpretation was that that was a figure of speech with no specific meaning. The driver showed how angry he was; I think that he really was angry (you don’t want to kill anyone no matter the consequences, right?), but also being angry might have been for him a way to be important in his eyes or something. After all, why should Buzykin care whether the driver is jailed or not, if he is dead and no longer cares of anything? Now, Buzykin first backed off, but then his girlfriend interfered, and Buzykin produced a sadly comic battle of roosters with his offender… That looked miserable, very much in his spirit…