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Moscow Believes in Tears: Aleksandr Zeldovich's Moskva

2017 682
For his film Moskva (Moscow, 2000), Aleksandr Zeldovich published the script, written together with the enfant terrible of Russia's literary establishment Vladimir Sorokin, before shooting even began. The result was a literary sensation, and the script was nominated for the Russian Booker Prize.

Taking the genre of the gangster film, Zeldovich and Sorokin used in the United States, where Communism has a way to what Zeldovich terms the "new totalitarianism."

The film centres on Mike, a businessman in decidedly the "new Russian" mould. When Mike gets stung on a deal, his suspicions immediately fall on Lev, who receives the customary torture to make him reveal where the money has gone. When Lev doesn't confess, Mike's suspicions waver and turn to other quarters, but as a precaution he still keeps Lev close at hand, locked up in the nightclub of an old friend and lover, Irina.

Here, Lev meets both Irina's daughters: Masha, who is ngaged to Mike, and Aleksandr Zeldovich's Moskva (Moscow, 2000)Olga, who suffers from autism which she has treatment from another of Irina's old flames, Mark. Mark is also secretly in love with Olga and commits suicide when he discovers that her innocence has been lost.

Despite the financial problem the disappearing money brings Mike, he goes ahead with an ambitious plan to open a new ballet school and theatre. His love of ballet also leads him to hold his wedding reception at an opera house, where during a performance of an extract of The Dying Swan, Mike is gunned down by a sniper.

With Mike disposed of, Lev is able to collect the money that he swindled Mike out of and with his new-found wealth marries both Masha and Olga at a double wedding ceremony attended by Irina.

Moskva, as a film about the 1990s, draws on the cheapness of gangster films and uses them both to create the emotional and spiritual atmosphere of an era in which the genre dominated and as a metaphor for processes in society.

However, Zeldovich also insists that inclusion of the crime elements was an essential part of the film's realism in the portayal of the decade:

In the 90s people were very often asking have you seen this guy or this one and the answer was no, I haven't seen him or him for a week or a couple of weeks. These people were somehow disappearing and never coming back. It was a time of disappearing people. And it was an everyday event... so that means that the criminality of this life really existed...
You can watch or download Moscow with English subs:

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