Assa (Асса, 1987) turned 30 years!2017 970
Almost three decades after it was made, the cult 1980s movie Sergei Solovyov. It has been called a "film manifesto," "Russian rock's main film" and even "the film that brought down the Soviet Union." The film was released 30 years ago.
The idea of Assa was far from a protest or a manifesto. At a screening of his film Wild Pigeon in Moscow, Solovyov saw a company of soldiers being hurried into the hall to fill empty seats.
At this point, he promised himself to make a successful box office film which would not need anybody being forced to attend. Solovyov decided to use the recipe of Indian cinema, which was popular in the USSR – a love story, lots of music and dancing.
In a brief retelling, Assa does sound quite Bollywood: beautiful nurse Alika, whose clothes (men's shirts, ties, caps) make her look like a Soviet version of Annie Hall, comes to wintertime Yalta – which is in Crimea, on the Black Sea coast – with her mobster lover Krymov, but falls in love with poor musician Bananan, who works as a watchman during the day and sings in the restaurant in the evenings.
Jealous Krymov orders Bananan to be stabbed and Alika, after learning about it, shoots Krymov dead with a pistol that she has found. Everything is as it should be: poverty and wealth, love and blood, songs and dances. The film also contains Lilliputians, KGB agents, fake astronauts and even regicides, but the main thing is, of course, the music.
To hear music by Russia's leading rock groups such as Akvarium, Kino or Bravo – which people copied from each other using reel-to-reel tape recorders – on the big screen at the end of the 1980s was a shock.
The most that underground rock musicians could hope for at that time was a tiny room for several hundred people at a "house of culture" – and Solovyov gave them an audience of millions.
Boris Grebenshchikov's "City of Gold" and Viktor Tsoi's "We Are Waiting for Change" were heard by the whole country, and it could not remain the same. It was a huge release of fresh energy, it was a rock wave that could not be stopped.
A vinyl record with the songs from Assa was one of Russian rock's first official releases, while the presentation of the movie turned into a grand show the like of which had never been seen in the USSR.
ARTS & LIVING, SPECIAL TO RBTH
UPD! Now you can watch and download Assa in High Quality with English subs: