Dec 182009


I’ve seen discussions on other topics that go like this one in Neokonchennaya pyesa:

Shcherbuk: All the best that humanity possesses, it owes to the representatives of the blue blood. … Where are the representatives of our high-class aristocracy? Where are the Pushkins, the Lermontovs, the Gogols, Goncharovs, Turgenevs?

Platanov: Gonchorov was a merchant.

Shcherbuk: Yes, that’s right. What?

Platanov: Gonchorov was a merchant.

Shcherbuk: Exceptions only prove the rule. So there, young man. Besides, it’s a debatable issue whether your Goncharov was a genius.

(I’m not sure these subtitles are a good translation, but I noticed one throwaway phrase that wasn’t translated, so I added it.)

I had never heard of this Goncharov, so I looked him up. Wikipedia says that author Ivan Goncharov’s father was a wealthy grain merchant. Ivan Goncharov himself was a writer and government worker. His most famous novel was Oblomov.

Well, I’ve heard of that one because I’ve seen the movie version, done by the same Nikita Mikhalkov who did this movie, a couple of years after this one. And in the movie Oblomov, the main character is played by the same Oleg Tabakov whose character is pontificating here in Unfinished Piece for Player Piano.

I’ve seen him in other movies, too, usually playing some obnoxious character, though usually it’s a more subtle, nuanced one than Shcherbuk. I wonder if he ever had a role playing a sympathetic character.

(I wish I could find Russian subtitles for this movie.)