“They occupied his mind and pacifist ideas, and he diligently
read the magazine "Massis" and Leo Tolstoy ".
Francis Scott Fitzgerald "On This Side of Paradise."
On the cinema screens - the fantastic action movie "Pacific Rim". The plot will not retell - it is fairly standard and comes down to the fact that a strong, kind, muscular American again saves the world from alien monsters. But there is a very remarkable detail in the film - a couple of Russian super warriors, more precisely a brother and sister - Alexey and Sasha Kaydanovsky. It immediately becomes clear that the author of the script is well acquainted with the “Stalker”, where one of the roles is played by Alexander Kaidanovsky. Our compatriots are beauties, a man with an indispensable, I would say, a textbook beard. And in one of the dialogs, a meaningful phrase sounds: "Russians can get everything." It was not at all about some trivial clothes or even food, but, actually, a nuclear bomb.
So, Russia and the Russian theme on the screen, in literature, in memoirs. What does an average, more or less educated American know about our country? Or, say, a European? Dostoevsky - Dyagilev - Gagarin. "War and Peace", "Swan Lake", "Solaris". And yet - the myths about the rescued princess Anastasia, the bloody horror stories about Comrade Stalin and the legends associated with Siberia. What is most surprising and frightening foreigner? First of all, space. Even from the point of view of a resident of the USA, accustomed to his cowboy prairies, the “Russian field” is something unimaginable. And a resident of a small, cozy doll Europe is completely scared, especially in winter. In the memoirs of Catherine the Great there are lines dedicated to the first impression of the endless Russian road: "We all drove and drove along the snowy plain."
Russia is sometimes perceived as a world of enchanting luxury and boundless, most often wild, untrodden roads. In this regard, recall the French computer game 'Syberia', which takes place on the territory of semi-fantastic Russia. We are confronted with the civilization of steam engines, mechanical dolls, old “merchant” taverns, wrought vignettes of the Modernist style that have survived to this day ... Life seemed to freeze at the turn of the century, and we plunge into a certain fantasy, mythological world. Although the name of the half-abandoned mining town - Komsomolsk - tells us that even the socialist industry was once in this land ... The perception of the Russian world, like fairy tales, like legends, is an old история. Most of the memoirists, describing Muscovy, the Russian Empire or, say, the Soviet Union, were amazed at the beauty and splendor of palace decorations (or, alternatively, Stalin's skyscrapers), as well as the desire of the Russian people to dress “in people” in their very best attire.
Here, for example, the collection "Foreigners about ancient Moscow." We read what the Europeans of the XVI-XVII centuries thought and saw as Muscovites. The Dutch merchant Isaac Massa, who was fortunate enough to see the confluence of the smart people at the entrance of the Danish duke to Moscow, wrote: “A huge crowd of people represented a wonderful spectacle. Almost all were dressed in gold brocade and multicolored silks. All the streets of Moscow were filled with people dressed in festive clothes; there were many women in the crowd, adorned with pearls and hung with precious stones. ” On this red and gold background, the high-ranking guest dress was more than modest: "His (Duke-Avt.) Dress was made of sleek black velvet and the same raincoat lined with gold and pearls." While the black velvet fashion was dictated by the Spanish court, in Russia nobody was in the business before! Unprecedented luxury, the possession of fantastic wealth, which is not and can not be among the European kings, impressed the guests of the capital. The German Heinrich Staden, describing the ceremonial vestments, limited himself to a brief comment: "... in diamonds and gold."
“The luxury of furniture and costumes was striking in its strangeness: the view was amazing,” adventurer and traveler Giacomo Casanova left such a comment about Catherine’s Petersburg. The Italian guest was struck in Russia by the combination of oriental luxury with Versailles chic, and the impassable street dirt and bumpy roads with the glitter of precious parquet floors. Catherine Casanova was first seen at one of the usual balls, where, according to the Italian, up to ... six thousand people were invited (even the most luxurious events at the French court had never been so crowded). Marquis Astolphe de Custine, who visited Nicholas Russia in 1839, subsequently wrote: “The Russian people are sensitive to everything beautiful: their customs, furniture, utensils, outfits, appearance — everything is picturesque ...”. In de Custine's book, we again find a description of fabulous riches, which, however, “border on the Russians with the inability to live,” with servility and humiliation before the tsar-father. The modeller Elsa Schiaparelli, who was famous in 1930, visited the Soviet Union in the pre-war years, wrote that Russians are Oriental people and therefore look ridiculous in European attire, and the Kremlin looks like fabulous palaces and does not look like “Louis XIV style” at all. However, she added that everyone, from young to old, is addicted to parachuting. If we analyze all the statements of foreigners about Russia, it turns out to be a rather monotonous picture - a mixture of envy, mistrust, admiration and fear.
Speaking of fashion designers. The great couturier Paul Poiret, who is considered to be the ancestor of modern fashion, considered Russian culture to be one of the most amazing and mysterious. He brought samples of folk costumes and embroideries from his voyage across Russia to use them for his creations. Monsieur Paul was fascinated by the works of Lev Bakst and Dygilev's ballet. The so-called "eastern line" appeared in Puare after the triumph of Shakherazada by Mikhail Fokin. He was interested in Russia and another genius of Parisian couture - Yves Saint Laurent, who created the Russian Seasons collection in 1976 year, where high fox hats, so popular later in ... USSR, first appeared. Remember the cap of the protagonist in the film "Irony of Fate"? And, of course, in this collection there was no shortage of red boots, colorful scarves and gold embroidery. Russia is strongly associated with luxury. Gianni Versace, who made costumes for Maurice Béjart's ballet “Leningrad Souvenir”, created a remarkable and typical image of a girl doll. High kokoshnik, bright shawl, and at the same time - the wide crinoline of the XIX century. So, Russia is a fairy tale, luxury, a combination of Western fashions with Oriental motifs and - traditionalism, sustainability, striving for immutability.
When drawing the image of a Russian person, a Western writer or, say, the author of the script, most often relies on myth-making. The English Virginia Woolf in the novel “Orlando” describes the love of her hero and Russian mistress, who arrived with the father-diplomat for the coronation of James I. The girl's name is amazing, as is the situation: “Marusya Stanilovsk Dagmar Natasha Liana from the Romanov family”, which for brevity For some reason they call ... Sasha. So, we have London at the beginning of the 17th century. A passion for the Muscovite is possible only against the background of a cruel frost and bitter cold, which England has not yet known. Russia = Winter. And again we see high caps, incalculable, inconceivable wealth, a mixture of forest wildness and aristocratic grace in the spirit of Natasha Rostov. The writer, without knowing Russia at all, habitually confused those fairy tales and symbols that she knew well from books or from gossip. She endows the Moscow noblewoman with strange skills: “Sasha did not like to talk about her former life, and then she told how she heard a distant wolf’s howl in Russia in winter and showed how it sounds.” Russia is a country of revived, more precisely, never-dying fairy tales.
Cinematographers are not far behind either. What film can we take, everywhere we will meet furs, bears, magnificently furnished ballet, hussar mentics and Cossack caps - in memory of the 1812 year, winter, loving empress in wide fizhmah and powdered wig. Gold, boyars, Chekhov, cosmodrome. And, of course, vodka. Interestingly, in the West, Catherine II is well known and loved, but at the same time, for them she is no more than a collective image of the “Russian Tsarina”. If we analyze all the screenshots dedicated to her, then we can see that in this figure there is sometimes a lot of Elizaveta Petrovna (spontaneity, disorder, passion for night feasts and libations). This is a kind of generalized-approximate zarina, luxurious, slutty and at the same time - like a man recklessly brave. The story of Mother Catherine through the eyes of a foreign author is always a love story on the verge of a foul, on the verge of decency. No wonder, in one of the publications, the famous song of the group 'Boney-M' - 'Rasputin' turned out to be dedicated to ... Catherine the Great's lover. Western music critic, without going into historical details and other "little things of everyday life", attributed Gregory Rasputin to the gallant century. However, quite recently, at the exhibition “Catherine II and Frederick II in Cinema,” the Russian sightseer seriously asked: “What, Rasputin was Catherine's lover?” What really makes fun of Hollywood?
In this regard, an interesting old film "Eagle" with the participation of the brightest silent film star - Rudolph Valentino. This is a free version of Pushkin's “Dubrovsky”, where the main character wears Circassian, not forgetting, however, about the dress coat. So, one of the actors in the picture is a certain queen, zarina. By the grip - a cross between Elizabeth and Catherine, she wears a military uniform, but in combination with a long skirt (referring to Catherine's uniform dresses). At the same time, the action of the picture takes place exactly in the Pushkin era, that is, historically - in the time of Alexander I or Nicholas I. But since Russia is a fantasy space, the zarina in the film is invented, fabulous. Like, for example, the king in Cinderella or the king Saltan.
What else is popular? The novel by Leo Tolstoy "Anna Karenina" - one of the most sought-after scenes in the history of cinema. In terms of the number of movie incarnations (around 30), it can be compared to it, perhaps, Hamlet or, say, The Three Musketeers. Over the years, Anna Karenina was played by leading actresses - Greta Garbo, Vivien Leigh, Sophie Marceau, Jacqueline Bisset, Keira Knightley. Of course, the world shown in all these pictures is very far from the reality described by Leo Tolstoy, and the deep philosophy of the novel easily and without loss for the western audience is reduced to a personal tragedy of the main character. The last film adaptation - with Keira Knightley - does look like a gorgeous theatrical production, where the scene is even more conditional than even some Middle-earth or, for example, Narnia.
An interesting and paradoxical film adaptation of “Eugene Onegin” with Rafe Fiennes. It looks like a regular costume project, while, as always, illiterate. So, not satisfied with the annoying, familiar “Kalinka-raspberries”, the authors include in the narration ... the Soviet song “Oh, viburnum blooms” - Tatiana and Olga Larina sing it as a salon romance. But at the same time, the filmmakers unfold in front of us is not at all fabulously mythical, but a realistic, European world, as if it were a screen version of the novels of Jane Austen or Charlotte Bronte. And Onegin is not here "like a dandy", but a real dandy. Not an imitator, what were the Russian bar-anglomany, but the real carrier of dendist habits and ideas about life.
Let us now recall the plots of the Third Reich films devoted to the “Russian theme”. So, the Kreutzer Sonata and the Station Warden (beards, vodka and hussar mentik, of course, have a place) were made on the Goebbels studio of UFA. The film Favorite of the Empress, devoted, by the way, to Elizaveta Petrovna, was very popular, and the biographical tape “This delightful ball night ...” was timed to coincide with the centenary of the birth of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The meaning of all these films is to show that a person with a delicate soul and significant talents is doomed to torment in the Slavic, Russian world. This is precisely related to the teachings of Alfred Rosenberg about the “Nordic component,” as the engine of progress in the sciences and arts. Therefore, the role of suffering Tchaikovsky was played by the reference German handsome Hans Shtyuve. At one time, as part of the Moscow-Berlin exposition of 1996, many articles in German were published on the Nazi perception of Russian culture. For example, the German journalist gave a description of the theatrical productions of Chekhov's plays, carried out in the Nazi period. Thus, the central actor of the play “The Three Sisters” was the “Aryan” Baron Tuzenbach, who is literally killed by the “Slavic chaos” represented by the staff captain Salty.
During the Cold War, many iconic paintings were created about the opposition of cruel, empty-headed, frantic homo-sovietics and bright, clean, daringly patriotic Americans. It was straightforward, slogan propaganda, but it simply has no right to exquisite shades and subtle nuances. Residents of the United States systematically taught to hate and fear the "red" - wild demi-people, waving banners and a nuclear bomb. So, the Soviet boxer Ivan Drago in “Rocky IV” is a mixture of a cruel, soulless robot with a poster member of the Komsomol.
Blond, powerful, merciless, with a steel look, looking to the Bright Future, superman Drago, nevertheless, loses in the ring to the “simple American guy.” The Soviet boxer performed by Dolph Lundgren is solid, stupidly aggressive and looks like a programmed killer car, and therefore doomed to failure. The creators wanted to show that the Russian, socialist world is the same colossus with feet of clay, like Drago. Aggression - a lot, meaning - a little. The perestroika “thaw” and the rapprochement of America with the USSR reflected in the created cinema images. A positive handsome man appeared immediately - policeman Ivan Danko from the “Red Heat” ...
However, shot at the end of 1990-x, “Armageddon” shows us a drunk, overgrown ... cosmonaut Lev Andropov in a characteristic hat with earflaps and in a stale t-shirt with a red star. He does not at all look like a proud conqueror of star spaces. Before us, rather, the image of not sober plumber, who manages all his onboard equipment with wrenches and weighty fist. Well, it was a kind of Hollywood reaction to collective self-abasement, adopted in Yeltsin Russia.
... Of course, demanding a thorough knowledge of Russian culture and Soviet realities from American and French filmmakers, or, say, from English writers, would not be entirely correct. Yes, every nation has its own vision and its own myths - sometimes we also think that all Americans put their feet on the table, and the Germans inflate with beer and pick "Sweet Augustine." And the fact that the brother and sister Kaydanovsky look like typical Hollywood supermen in the blockbuster “Pacific Frontier” cannot but rejoice — after all, not the monsters, from whom again the world must be saved and the not drunken drunkards controlling the rocket under vodka stoparik. Depict supermen, it means respect. Or again afraid?