Демидовы

Могучий Нижнетагильский завод - главный козырь в колоде Демидовых, чудо-оружие и палочка-выручалочка.
Его владельцы кутили и куражились, состязались с державами и царями, сорили деньгами в гостях, а дома
скупились для своих и на копейку. Но Тагил выдержал всё. Справился. Сдюжил. Демидовы породили титана.
Завод и хозяева словно испытывали друг друга: кто первым сломается? Завод изнеможет в каторжном труде
или хозяева исчерпают жажду жизни? Победу одержал завод. Елим Демидов просто устал быть промышленником.
Сдался быть Демидовым. В 1917 году он продал Тагил и уехал в Европу. История Демидовых закончилась.
История Тагила продолжается. Но жаль, что Демидовых нет.


Вот такой неожиданный вывод делает Алексей Иванов в своей амбициозной "Горнозаводской цивилизации", несмотря на то, что в противопоставлениях "правильных капиталистов" Строгановых, живших домостроем и понятиями, и жестоких Демидовых, транжиривших состояние и постоянно враждовавших даже друг с другом, всегда занимал сторону первых (впрочем, здесь сказалось и происхождение Иванова - понятны его симпатии в вечном соперничестве Приуралья, олицетворяемого Строгановыми, и Среднего Урала, символом которого являются Демидовы).

Collapse )

Old vs Extra-Old. "The Forty-First": Lavrenyov, Protazanov, Chukhray



Historical memory is a very unstable thing. The attitude to events of the past is constantly changing, and that's reflected in mass art. Everybody knows famous "Gone with the Wind" (1939) - the story about sometimes mistaking, but so noble and justified in their way young Confederates. It was written by Margaret Mitchell (descendant of Confederates) with love and sympathy to old world of rural America. But not so many people know how often the attitude to Civil War was changing in American culture! And that by 1940s - 70 years after the loss in war - the Southerns in fact have owned back. The success of Margaret Mitchell's book and it's cinema adaptation was not occasional and singular: the Southerns were becoming main characters of movies, were depicted positively ("Judge Priest" - 1934; "So Red the Rose", "The Littlest Rebel" - 1935; "Santa Fe Trail" - 1940 etc.) 1920-1930s were the time of revisionism in American history, and many historians declared the Civil War as a sad mistake, and people thought it would be better to fight against Indians together than fight against each other. That sounds shocking nowadays, when attitude to the Southerns is negative as never before. The history has changed its course once again, and another 70 years later we see, that screening of "Gone with the Wind" is resisted in Memphis as offensive, and at the same time a crusade against monuments devoted to Southern generals was started. Another remarkable historian event is French revolution, and I bet that the attitude to it was changing for ages and is still changing.

But today we'll talk about another upheaval that changed the world 100 years ago - the Great October Socialist Revolution, followed by Russian civil war. There is no need to check modern Russian cinema, as the attitude of creative intellectuals, producers and mandarins is strictly negative and constantly streamed from screens - that's too obvious, but doesn't correspond to public opinion enough. Moreover, the quality of movies and TV series lowered greatly. To my mind, it's more interesting to see fickleness of historical memory through the example of the story "The Forty First" by Boris Lavryenyov and its two film adaptations, one of them is made by contemporaries in the aftermath and the other - by the next generation (generation of War!) 30 years later.

Collapse )

"Weird Tales" (1919)

It's late night, antiquarian bookshop is closing, delayed visitors are living being gazed after by impatient eyes of three ugly portraits. Hardly the door was closed after the last of them, when three monsters synonymic with purest evil left narrow portrait frames and went down for joint leisure time... in reading (as well as television still hasn't been invented). This is the beginning of German horror movie of 1919 "Unheimliche Geschichten" ("Weird Tales").



Austrian director Richard Oswald has chosen 4 stories by famous craftsmen for his movie, and fifth one - joky - was written by himself. So, "Unheimliche Geschichten" - is a package of five novels, having just one thing in common: each of them is read in a company of the most disgusting characters, that could be imagined in Germany torn by war: the Devil, the Death and the Hustler (?!). These roles (as well as leading roles in all novels) played by three popular German actors of that time. The Devil was received by Reinhold Schunzel, more successful as confident supporting actor - due to his anti-hero appearance. He scarily easily personated shifty and ugly scoundrels with insane eyes, and, I suppose, the movie owes lion's share of grim charm to Schunzel. The Death (in some strange unconventional portrayal - I have no idea, what has inspired Oswald) was played by famed Conrad Veidt. The star of German cinema Expressionism had a specific appearance (especially being young): expansive forehead with high temples, thin lips, big straight nose, deep-set eyes, accompanied by deep shadows traditional for silent cinema - which made his face entirely grim. So, he was born for horrors more clearly than Vincent Price. And the Hustler was played by none other than scandal-ridden Anita Berber - personification of vice and depravity, and I should mention, that roles of hustlers tacked on her. Being 20 years old, she played in cinema just for second year, but already had considerable filmography. Just in this 1919 she played in 5 pictures, and for of them were with stellar Conrad Veidt. There are many interesting articles about Anita Berber in Internet, so I'd just mention to give you an idea: she was mostly famous as a dancer, her dance programms were notable for provoking, outrageous content, starting with nudity on the edge of pornography. Personally, she was bisexual, and two of her husbands were open homosexual (though she married them as her dance partners). During Europe and Middle East concert tour she hit cocaine heavily, wrote pornographic stories and poems, and against all the odds Anita missed "27 Club" (I am sure, all those guys in club would be a comfortable company for her), but not too far - she died in age of 29. The real rock'n'rolla. By the way, she had an interesting appearance and pretty good acting ability, so Anita became a jewel of the movie and one of the most convincing arguments to watch it almost 100 years after.



The first of the novels is "The Phantom" based on the story by Anselma Heine, her name was a household word at that time. This novel is the most successful as thriller. The whole plot is imbued with paranoia, and a plot twist is given quite skilfully. The novel's main character played by Veidt tries to save casual fellow traveller from her maniac husband, but, it seems, fails. But raising doubt completely cut the ground from under his feet: was he go nuts, and did the husband exist, as well as his lady? The protagonist is loosing mind beneath our eyes, the tension is mounting, and the ending is worthily tricking. Though, the plot is the strongest advantage, and actors will do their best further.

The second novel - "The Arm" by another movie's contemporary Robert Liebmann - German writter, tragically perished in Oswiecim. That's the short story of ominous murder and payback for it. "The Arm" is a benefit of Schunzel, playing leading part, but Veidt as the Deadman is also very convincing. Though, this not very remarkable novel is interesting in other way: here we are give an opportunity to watch beautiful Anita, execute a solo dance on stage. No nudity, comrades, don't crowd round here!



And further we have immortal classics, that has survived both Anselma Heine and Liebmann, and will survive many other authors in future. The third novel is Edgar Allan Poe and his classical story "The Black Cat". One morestory of murder, and again villian is Reinhold Schunzel, but Veidt and Berber swaped their usual lines of victim and witness. This story has a nice acted set-up, mostlu due to remarkable acting of Schunzel and Berber (turns out, that Anita could also play innocent woman, if needed), but Oswald could leverage the plot about murderer exposure much more inventively. However, that's just nit picking.



This is just a Suicide Club, welcome, pay membership fee over there, please. Robert Louis Stevenson and the strangest hobby ever - until Babluani's "Tzameti". Aristocratic Conrad Veidt (again masterful transformation) invites chance comer to join company of strange fellows at card-table, the game is simple, but high bets thrills. Despite tightly-plotted set-up, Oswald didn't manage to use a plot in a proper way. Schunzel is rolling wall eyes like mad, clasp hands and gnaw fingers, showing distraction too stereotipically, the director overdoes in stirring up fright, therefore it doesn't fright at all, and a gluing chair, impossible to stand from, is absolutely stupid in our time. Even final tricking left me indifferent.



Seemingly being aware of leaving spectator with gloomy impression, Oswald decides to lighten things up in the end by irony. The novel is based on his own original screenplay and is called "The Ghost". The scene shifts somewhere to XVIII century, the actors plastered pancake make-up on faces, pulled powder perwicks and gorgeous dresses on. Well, in general, not Chaplin of course, but final part plays the role of easing of tension quite worthy. We have to remember, that any mysticism and deviltry can be often explained much easier.

Oswald will remake his anthology in remarkable for Germany 1932. But whom could he surprise with old actors among new horrors? Just a couple of years later Oswald (having Jewish origin) will understand everything and leave fatherland just in time. However, it's a different weird tales...

A few words about not-celebrated actress



In 1941 alongside with evacuation of factories to the Urals another evacuation was held - not so tremendous, but nevertheless considerable: production facilities of Mosfilm (Moscow) and Lenfilm (Leningrad) studios (alongside with movies in production) moved to Tashkent and Alma-Ata. Here, in narrow stages of national minor cinema studios, the Soviet "dream factory" was established for the War period, and that has given really strong impulse for development of Uzbek and Kazakh cinema.

One of the first successful movies, filmed in Tashkent, was "Nasreddin in Buchara" by "much-feared" Yakov Protazanov. Sadly, it was the last movie of genius director. But his impulse was supported by Uzbek director Nabi Ganiyev, who assisted Protazanov in "Nasreddin". Nabi was a pioneer of Uzbek cinema, before the War he usually turned to themes of revolutionary struggle, civil war and other actual problems, which were in trend of 1930s. 1940s were time of return to national epics, legendary heroes of old times, so "Nasreddin" being based on novels by L.Solovyov about crafty hero of Uzbek tales - is also a kind of tribute to fashion of that time. Ganiyev cherished an idea of national epic screen adaptation for a long time. He thought about Uzbek "robin hood" Namaz-ugri, about batyr Alpomys. Those plans were not fulfilled, but in 1946 two epic movies by Ganiyev were screened: "Takhir and Zukhra" (such a Turkic foretype of Romeo and Juliet) and "The Adventures of Nasreddin" (continuing theme, started together with Protazanov).


What did "Takhir and Zukhra" tell Soviet spectator, tired of the War? It told about self devotion, nobility and overwhelming power of love, of course. Somewhere on background we see a cruel khan, oppressing neighboring peoples (but mostly own one), his elusive antagonist, getting an army of followers together for 18 years (?!) to make a last, determined strike at autocracy. All it looks more like permanent oriental flavour, than landmarks. Because only these young man and girl stay in heart, as they are so strikingly confident in each other, despising death and knowing no agonies of choosing.

Тахир и Зухра


But I had a special and absolutely different interest in this movie. I wanted to look in eyes of the actress, who played a small role of Khoresmian princess Makhim.

Ziba Ganiyeva - the girl with face of Nefertiti, as she was called by Valentina Galanina (ballet dancer, Ziba's coursemate in Tashkent Philharmonia) - has left choreography course in 1940 and gone to Moscow, where she has enrolled at State Institute of Theatrical Art, acting course. People said, that even Institute's artistic director Leonid Leonidov had payed attention to Ziba on one of the lessons and given generous praise, compaing with famous Mariya Yermolova. Ziba was swept away by tragic heroics, virile characters, she wanted to try herself in roles of Lady Macbeth or Lady Milford. But...

...The small role of Makhim, taking hardly 5 minutes of screen time, became the only role of Ziba Ganiyeva. Oh no, everything was alright with her after that. She has graduated from faculty of philology in Baku, married a diplomat, became a professor of oriental studies, and lived a long and, as I hope, happy life. And these scenes in movie by her namesake Nabi Ganiyev - is a unique possibility to look in eyes of real beauty and to try to distinguish just a hue of that another, thunderous life, that destiny has brought her through - from doors of State Institute of Theatrical Art in 1941 to Tashkent film studio in 1945.


Is it possible to guess, that 4 years before these takes a fay with face of Nefertiti has marched one cold and not celebratory day of 7 November 1941 (Anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution) on Red Square in Moscow - among those, whoes life had only few days and hours to run? Can we imagine her as a radio operator, crossing front line within recon teams for 16 times? Or holding assault rifle and hugging trembling tank armor in counterstrikes near Leningrad? And since 1942 Ziba has realized a new talent. She became the best sniper of 130th rifle division on Soviet North-West front.



In three years before these takes this beauty has shot 20 German soldiers and officers (and the last one - point-blank with an assault rifle in combat for a town). That's only officially confirmed, her own after-war count was 129. There was also (as per jenre laws) a duel versus German sniper. There were wounds, and the last one was especially heavy - Ziba was bedridden for 11 months and, of course, couldn't return to front after that.

I peer into this guileless, confident smile, into shining young face of not-celebrated actress and think: how can one divine a real, burning heart among hundreds of people around us? Is total and cruel war really necessary for that?..

Pioneer of Russian cinema



In early childhood of cinema, while it could hardly be named a sphere of art, and its very essense had more common with circus, amusement, carnival, than with theatre and literature, then lots of mostly occasional, but very enthusiastic people were thrown by accident on film set. And though Chaplins and Mélièses could also be found among them, and later they made the art of cinema as we know it today, but large majority of them produced extemporary threadbare movies, and due to them contemporary common people treat early (and sometimes all silent) cinema with offensive allowances - as something ridiculous, that has to be respected for age and being first, but not evaluated seriously (otherwise it's like blasphemy). Well, anyway that was trial of strength and searching for meaning by cinema, and many innovations, technical practices were found by such enthusiasts and understood much later.

All of the aforesaid can be applyed to Russian Czarist cinema as well. Probably, the suggestion of Ministry of Education of the Russian Federation to include first Russian movie "Stenka Razin" in school curricula was quite reasonable some way - just to show that Russians started filming something since 1908, but we can talk seriously just about few Russian movie directors of that period. But the main issue of this post is more folksy creator and forefather of cinema genre of "historical reconstruction". This article is devoted to great and strange enthusiast Vasiliy Mikhaylovich Goncharov, the man, who in fact started Russian cinema.

Collapse )

Национальные и другие кинотопы



Как-то давно обратил внимание, что на Кинопоиске есть несколько фильмов-аномалий - фильмов, которые высоко оценены российским зрителем, но за пределами России не так популярны. Причём речь не о само собой разумеющихся родных фильмах, а именно зарубежных. В топ-250 Кинопоиска стабильно висит "Один дома", популярный и в США, однако оценённый на IMDB куда скромнее. Боевик "Профессионал" с Бельмондо, скорее относящийся к категории "Б" и даже во Франции не снискавший особенной популярности, стал по-настоящему культовым в СССР и - по наследству - в России. Особую любовь испытывает наш зритель и к Адриано Челентано, хотя в США он практически неизвестен, а классические комедии "Блеф" и "Укрощение строптивого" на IMDB также имеют весьма средние оценки. Ещё один феномен наших кинопредпочтений - трагикомедия Томаса Яна "Достучаться до небес", ещё недавно входившая в непробиваемую десятку КП и вытолкнутая на 12 место только "Началом" и "1+1". Этот фильм не особо известен в США, да и в Германии едва обладает половиной той популярности, что снискал у нас. Ещё в число особых предпочтений российского зрителя (т.е. число оценок большее или сравнимое с IMDB) входят "Босиком по мостовой" и "Знахарь".

Вообще говоря, и восприятие советского кино, конечно, значительно отличается у родного зрителя и у зарубежного. У нас тоже смотрят и ценят Тарковского, Калатозова, Германа и т.п., однако куда выше ставят народное и близкое широкому кругу людей кино Гайдая, "В бой идут одни старики", "Джентльмены удачи", "Любовь и голуби". Иностранец, желающий сойти за своего в России, может не знать Тарковского, но Гайдая, Данелию и Рязанова пересмотреть просто обязан.

Увлёкшись такими исследованиями, я набрёл на различные национальные кинобазы и кинотопы, погрузившись в которые можно сделать ещё немало интересных открытий - узнать, как топовые голливудские фильмы воспринимаются в разных странах, какие "заходят" решительно всем, а какие - на любителя, а также выяснить, какое национальное кино полюбилось у себя дома. А отчего бы на Новый Год не поделиться своими находками, подбитыми в каталог, с миром?

Collapse )

Collapse )

Пожар Москвы. 1812 год



В прошлый раз я коснулся темы войны 1812 года (одной из сакральных для российского общества) и взгляда на неё через 100 лет после событий. А сегодня взглянем на неё уже с расстояния в 200 лет - хочу поведать об одной из самых интересных исторических книг о русской кампании Наполеона, что мне довелось читать. Прежде, однако, надо бегло обрисовать тот путь, что проделала история как наука за эти 100 лет, отделяющих нас от пафосных торжеств Николая II.

Collapse )

Пионер российского кино и его "1812 год"



На заре развития кинематографа, когда его ещё сложно было назвать искусством, а в самой его сути было больше от цирка, аттракциона, балаганного зрелища, чем от театра и литературы, на съёмочную площадку забрасывало множество совершенно случайных, но крайне предприимчивых людей. И хотя порой среди них попадались Чаплины и Мельесы, сделавшие в итоге кино тем, чем оно теперь является, подавляющее большинство выдавало наспех сделанные неуклюжие поделки, из-за которых современный обыватель относится к раннему (а порой и всему немому) кино с обидной "скидкой" - как к чему-то смешному, уважать которое можно и нужно за возраст и первенство, а оценивать всерьёз - кощунство. Что ж, это в любом случае была проба сил и поиски кинематографом себя, многие новшества, технические приёмы были найдены вот такими энтузиастами, а осознаны гораздо позднее.

В полной мере вышесказанное относится и к российскому дореволюционному кино. Наверное, по-своему оправдано, что Министерство Образования РФ включило в школьную программу первый российский фильм "Понизовая вольница" - просто как факт того, что снимать у нас что-то там стали с 1908 года, но говорить серьёзно выходит буквально о нескольких российских кинорежиссёрах этого периода и их считанных фильмах. К этому явлению я когда-нибудь ещё обращусь подробно. А сегодня поговорим именно о кустарном творчестве и предтече киножанра "историческая реконструкция", большим энтузиастом которого был герой сегодняшнего репортажа - Василий Михайлович Гончаров, с которого, впрочем, начался российский кинематограф вообще.

Collapse )

Нижний Тагил. Новое лицо города


Я немало говорил о решительных преобразованиях мэра Сергея Носова, подкрепленных щедрой материальной поддержкой из Москвы и одобрением жителей, жаждавших обновлений. Носов взялся формировать новое лицо города - со спокойной уверенностью хирурга, не испытывающего жалости к надрезаемым тканям пациента. У меня набралось немного фотографий, по которым можно составить впечатление о том, что ждёт путешественника в самом центре города сегодня.

Collapse )