Feb 152009


What’s the deal with these padded doors in Russian movies? Here’s the door of the Director’s office in Sluzhebnyiy Roman (Office Romance) a 1977 movie.


And here’s a door to an apartment, in “Moskva slezam ne verit”, a 1979 film. And there are many others to be found. I have questions, assuming these types of doors were found in real life and not just in the movies.

  • When did that style of door get started?
  • What materials are used?
  • Why have padded doors at all?
  • Is that still a common style? If not, when did it end?
  • Is/was it just a Russian thing, or were those found in other countries as well?

I suppose I could answer some of those questions myself by paying closer attention to the dates of movies I’m watching.

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.

Jan 212008

As a public service, I should make a database that categorizes Russian movies in useful and important ways:

Proto-bolshevik revolutionary — In pre-revolutionary Russia, there is the odd character who tinkers with explosives, befriends a youngster, is arrested and beaten by the police, and perhaps has some noble words about truth for the youngster to remember as he is hauled away.

  • The Childhood of Maxim Gorky
  • Siberiade
  • (One movie recently seen on RTR-Planeta that had three of them who conducted some caper on behalf of the motherland and were then hauled away to be executed by the ungrateful czarist government.)
  • Andrei Rublev — The setting is somewhere around 1400. In this case it’s Rolan Bykov as a dangerous jester rather than an explosive maker. He gets beat up by the police, like the others, but his words of wisdom are in his jokes.

Revolutionary man scorns woman — Beautiful young woman tries to seduce/charm a man who ignores her so as not to get distracted from his revolutionary mission.

  • In one movie I saw on RTR-Planeta, the guy politely ignored the advances of the young woman who somehow ended up in the camp of revolutionaries, but took interest when it turned out she was an excellent shot with a handgun.
  • In the RTR-Planeta movie with the three-musketeer types, one of the three resists the advances of a beautiful woman who undresses in his hideaway before realizing he is there, too. She wants to be kissed; his facial expression says no; he goes on to complete his mission.

Indoor chairs used outdoors

  • Moscow does not believe in tears
  • Unfinished piece for player piano
  • Vodka Lemon (not a Russian movie, but some Russian is spoken)

Nikita Mikhalkov in a tanktop – (He seems to favor horizontal stripes)

  • Railway Station for Two
  • Burnt by the Sun
  • Siberiade

Tonight as we were watching Siberiade , Mikhalkov appeared once again in that tanktop with horizontal stripes. That’s what motivated me to finally start compiling this list.