Jul 232008

No Russian movies tonight. I’m busy getting ready for some Spokesrider bike rides. I did spend some time with the Russian language, though, starting with one of Viktor D. Huliganov’s lessons.

Then, while working on my maps I listened to YouTube music, and then stumbled upon this song, which I recognize from the movie Obyknovennoye chudo. It’ll be handy having it here so I can learn the words.

And I see that Nastya Kamenskih is in on this kind of music, too. I was somewhat surprised to see her on this stage. I learned about her some months ago when doing a YouTube search for Fabrika Zvezd. Most of the music from Fabrika Zvezd doesn’t bear much repeated listening for me, but the “Ne para” that she did with Potap is one that wears well. She has a good voice, and it seems she and Potap enjoyed working together on stage. It was fun to watch the two respond to each other. I’ve also seen several more recent YouTube clips of her singing with the guy that appears with her in the above clip. (I’ve seen his name, but don’t remember it.) The songs those two do together doesn’t seem to work quite as well. Below is the one she did with Potap on Fabrika Zvezd. I don’t know that they ever topped it — at least not on YouTube.

I see I’ve wondered a long way from Ostrov — from Pyotr Mananov to Dmitri Dyushev to Tamara Gverdtsiteli to Nastya Kamenskih.

Hmmm. I still haven’t worked with my vocabulary flash cards tonight. Better go and do my quota for the evening.

Jul 162008


In re-watching the end of Ostrov tonight, I was even more irritated by some of the flaws at the end. The movie is a great one, but now I think the climax is sloppily done. (Go away if you don’t like spoilers.)

One part that bugs me is the exorcism. It’s done well, but the Father Anatoly character doesn’t quite fit. He has already announced that he will be dying shortly, but here he is, looking younger, stronger, cleaner, healthier, and better dressed than he did anywhere else in the movie, either before or after. He wears that heavy coat shown in the above image, where in other winter scenes he’s simply wearing his black robe. And no, it’s not that this scene takes place in bitter cold. There is a pool of water from which he washes Nastya’s face. In bitter cold that pool would have been iced over.

My best guess is that this scene was shot early in the process, while the filmmakers were still trying to feel their way as to how to portray the character. What they finally settled on was perfect. It’s too bad their earlier, less successful experiment (if that’s what this was) couldn’t have been redone.

The following paragraph might be considered a spoiler.

The other part is the final scene with Nikhon. I’m glad it wasn’t done Hollywood style, with hugs and over-dramatization. But the scene doesn’t seem to have made any difference. It doesn’t seem to have mattered much to the characters, and it doesn’t develop either of the character’s characters any further. The first time through I thought maybe I was just too dense to get it, or maybe there was something in the language that didn’t come through in the subtitles. But now, after a second viewing, it just doesn’t seem to work.

It’s still an excellent movie, though. Here is a scene that I just now found on YouTube. It’s one that does work. (Sorry, no subtitles.) It includes the prayer for the healing of the boy. It has especially good acting and good camera work. Note the camera position for that prayer by Pyotr Manonov/Father Anatoly.

Late edit: I said I just now found this clip? I see I had already posted a link to it several days ago. Oh, well.

Jul 132008

I had read in several places that Pyotr Mamanov became a convert to the Russian Orthodox Church and left Moscow to live in a village. Here is a YouTube clip that apparently shows the village he moved to. I like scenes of peoples’ back yards like in this one, where he goes out to feed his dog and cats.

I wish I could understand more than a few disconnected words and phrases of what he’s saying.

One thing that strikes me from the movie, Ostrov, is how on one hand the character he plays can say to the boy with the leg that won’t heal, “on dobroye” (speaking of God) and on the other he is tormented by his sins and afraid to face God after he dies. But that’s a way that people can be.

(OK, I just now learned that BlogDesk, which I usually use for posting, couldn’t handle Cyrillic characters. But the WordPress editor can.)

Jul 112008


Tonight we finished watching Ostrov. Some random comments:

  • Some of the camera work (and scenery) reminded me of Vozvrashcheniye (The Return), which is the first Russian movie I watched, and which I still think is the best one I’ve seen. I’ll give Ostrov a “5” at Netflix, too, though.
  • This is the first film in which I’ve heard a Russian chorus, sacred or otherwise, singing off-key. I thought it perhaps wasn’t possible.
  • I was surprised that the big surprise near the end wasn’t a lot more surprising for the participants. I presume it was done this way on purpose. I have no reason to think it was due to a lack of acting ability.
  • I see that Pyotr Mamanov really is against abortion.
  • My wife was wondering why Father Job is called Job. Do Russian monks really take that name? And what is the symbolism. Why wasn’t he called Father Cain? He had a good way of demonstrating Cain’s sacrifice.

I’ll be watching it at least once more before sending it back, for language-learning purposes.