Oct 132009


I still haven’t worked up enough nerve to finish watching Voditel dlya Very. Instead I took in something easy and watched parts of Ironya Sudba.

I’ve watched it a few times already, but this time something caught my eye just a few seconds from the end of Part One.

In most of the Eldar Ryazanov films I’ve seen, he works something about western communication technology into the film. In Vokzal dlya Voikh (1982) it was a VCR player. In Sluzhebnyy roman it was a built-in 8-track player in a car. In these two films, the items were shown as if some new technology was being introduced to the viewers. In Beregis Avtomobilya the bad guy helped obtain a western tape player (if I remember correctly) on the black market, because the customer said a Soviet one wouldn’t do.

Ryazanov has made a lot more films than that, most of which I have not seen. So I don’t know if this is a theme that recurs throughout. Until I saw the above screenshot in Ironya Sudba, I thought it might be an exception. But the close-up of the phonograph turntable shows the English words “Party-Time.”

Why an American (or English) phonograph in a film in which Barbara Brylska had her voice dubbed because it wasn’t Russian enough? I presume that in 1971 there were Russian phonographs, too. Is Ryazanov playing a little game with us?

Google hasn’t helped me learn much about Party-Time phonographs, btw. I’ve found a few that are sold as collectors items, but they look cheaper than the one shown in the film. It’s not a brand name that I recall ever paying attention to.

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.

Feb 012009


I downloaded Sluzhebnyiy Roman (Offfice Romance) from Memocast, but somehow messed up on the subtitle file. It was too late to go back and re-download it.

I probably could have asked the Memocast people for help, but instead I found English subtitles elsewhere. Unfortunately, they were in two files, while the movie was in one.

And the timings were way off — the words appearing well after the words were spoken. I didn’t mind that too much for language-learning purposes. Using the first of the two files, I got a chance to listen and process what I was hearing before getting to see the subtitle. But this wouldn’t do when Myra watches the film with me.

It didn’t take long to find a tool to help fix things up. I used Subtitle Workshop from URUworks. I learned about it at the Videohelp.com forum, where there was also a good description of how to use it to combine two subtitles files into one.

That program can also be used to fix the timings. I plan to use it for other subtitle files whose timings are just fine. I can use those files as is when watching films with Myra, but create a separate version with long delays for use when I’m trying to work on my Russian listening skills.

Office Romance is an Eldor Ryazanof film. It’s not quite as good as Irony of Fate or Railway Station for Two, but it is definitely worth watching. I don’t know if it’s giving me an accurate idea of what an office worker’s job may have been like in 1980s Russia, but it seems to be a plausible if partial picture. Russia doesn’t have Scott Adams and Dilbert to chronicle such a culture, but it has Ryazanov.