Heart of a Dog
The Russian Revolution of 1917 and Michail Bulgakov gave birth to a new biological species: the “dog-man” Sharikov. The Internet revolution of the 21st century gave birth to the “Anonymous Man.” The Anonymous Man is a crafty creature who is almost as clever as a dog. The Anonymous Man has neither fortune, nor any features. Yet for all that, when herding together, Anonymous Men become omnipotent and invincible. In ancient times the Anonymous Men used to have another name: “the People.”
The Anonymous Men throng the Internet step by step. Then they crawl to the Tahrir and Manezhnaya Squares like zombies from a horror movie. Africa’s colonels are trembling in fear. The Persian Gulf’s sheiks are hiding out in corners. The faces of the former masters of Europe are painfully pummeled by statuettes.
On the other hand, the fate of the present idols, the “people’s protectors”, is not much better. As soon as you raise your head a little above the crowd of Anonymous Men and become a bit wealthier, smarter or luckier, you are punished. You, Navalny, and you, Shevchuk: once you’ve struck a pose—get a whack! The anger of the Russian Anonymous Man finds its allegorical counterpart in left-wing and liberal cinema – the so-called Russian “New Wave”. Almost all important Russian movies of 2006-2010—Help Gone Mad, Wolfy, Wild Field, Yuri’s Day, School, Russia 88, The Revolution That Wasn’t and the quasi-national My Joy—look at reality from the little man’s position. (Ilya Demichev’s Kakraki is a rare exception). In Russia, a war between the power and the people, the aristocracy and the plebs, is looming.
And now, against the background of the egalitarian left-wing cinema, Andrei Zvyagintsev makes Elena, the most anti-populist film in 20 years. In the context of current political life, this picture may become the Elite’s banner in its war against the underprivileged of all sorts. We have seen nothing of the kind since Vladimir Bortko’s film adaptation of Heart of a Dog.
If we discard the metaphors, the plot of Elena can be vulgarly described as a battle between relatives for a posh apartment in the center of Moscow: a typical sort of topic for the popular TV show “Time of Court.” The “new aristocrats,” youngish pensioner Vladimir (Andrey Smirnov) and his heiress she-devil Katya (Yelena Lyadova), confront the “grassroots people.” The Continue reading CAPSULE: ELENA (2011)
- The title of a 1925 novel by Mikhail Bulgakov, a biting satire of the New Soviet man. [↩]
- The hero of “Heart of a Dog,” made by crossing a dog with a proletarian man [↩]
- A Russian political and social activist who in recent years gained great prominence amongst Russian bloggers and mass media due to his social campaigning activity [↩]
- A humorous nickname for the ruling party in Russia led by Prime-Minister Putin. [↩]
- Yuri Shevchuk is a Russian singer/songwriter who leads the rock band DDT. Shevchuk is highly critical of the undemocratic society that has developed in Vladimir Putin’s Russia. [↩]