Aug 112008

This segment of Black Bim White Ear reminds me that I’ve been somewhat surprised by the portrayal of people’s interactions with police in movies from the Soviet era.

I wasn’t surprised that in Moskva slezam ne verit, Katerina tells her daughter that they shouldn’t call the police about some bullies who have been harassing her boyfriend, that they should handle the situation themselves. That’s kind of what I would expect in a police state. Even in the U.S. people sometimes have the idea that you should never talk to the police — which is not quite the same thing, but it’s not completely different, either.

But there are movies like Black Bim where people are quick to call the police (who seem to be always nearby, unlike in the U.S. where you can call 911 and sometimes wait a long time before anyone comes). And they are quick to berate the police for not doing their jobs.

Officer: “Who shouted?”

Man: “Why don’t you watch? Dogs at a street crossing of a regional center.”

I might think this was taking place in a Potemkin village, except the same sort of thing happens on planet Pluk in Kin-Dza-Dza.

There are of course people in the U.S. who will mouth off to the police. (I remember seeing the bumper sticker on a car that would tend to attract police attention even without it, “Bad cop. No Donut.”) But there are Russian movies in which “respectable” people do it, as happens on the street and at the police station in Belyy Bim.

So I wonder if that sort of thing was portrayed realistically, or if the sort of relationship in Moscow Has No Room for Tears was more realistic, or if both were realistic, depending on time and place.

Aug 092008

I enjoyed the city street scenes in this and other segments of White Bim Black Ear. I’m not completely sure why, but I think it’s because of the nostalgia. I remember when people wore clothes made of fabrics like that. There seems to be a mix of 50s, 60s, and early 70s styles, not as seen on Hollywood-type places and TV, but in the places where I lived. But it’s the fabrics that really caught my eye and made me remember. You won’t see that sort of thing in modern Russian movies, but I don’t remember seeing people dressed like that in any street scene in any American movie. In the past when I’ve made such statements I have sometimes been corrected, so I’ll say no more.

Jul 302008

I’ve started watching White Bim the Black Ear. Maybe it’ll turn out to be a sort of Lassie Come Home movie.

When I got to this segment last night, I was surprised. People carrying on about dogs having the proper pedigree? In a socialist country? Doesn’t that seem rather Ancien R�gime to be worrying about proper bloodlines and conformation instead of the dog’s ability as a worker?

I puzzled over that several minutes before I had my Duh moment, when I realized that maybe that’s the point. Those aren’t the good guys who are carrying on that way.

Sometimes I’m pretty slow to pick up on the political subtexts in a movie. This wasn’t the first time.

(When we had a dog at our house, it has always been a mutt. No dog aristocrats for us. But we’ve had no dogs at all since T�lpel died after a long dog-life.)