Russian Resurrection: 2009 Russian Film Festival

Yesterday I went to see two movies at a Russian film festival with my friend Larissa.

Both films were about war, which isn't really the kind of movie I like to watch because I can't stand seeing all that senseless killing. But despite that, both films were quite good and gave one food for thought.

The first film we watched was called "We're From The Future" (Russian title: My iz budushchego). Set in present day Saint Petersburg, it is about four friends, a student, a skinhead, a geeky gamer and a rapper, motivated by greed, make their cash looking for Nazi relics from WWII. During a dig they stumble upon a bombed out bunker full of valuable treasures but also something strange. Among the documents belonging to a Red Army officer they find a photograph of themselves. Thinking that they must be drunk on vodka and seeing things, they decide to jump into a nearby lake to sober up. But when they emerge from the water, they are greeted by a spray of gunfire in 1942.

I found the film quite interesting, there were a few light-hearted, even comedic, moments, but the majority of the film had a serious tone to it. What stood out most to me was the skinhead character who glorifies Hitler and has a swastika marked on his arm. When the four friends are transported to 1942, they join the Russian soldiers, and one of them, in reference to their skinhead friend, talks to a soldier saying that even though Russia will win the war, in the 21st century, "men dressed in black will walk on the streets of Moscow and shout 'Heil Hitler'". This makes the soldier angry and he attacks the person. As the four friends spend time fighting along side the Russian soldiers and witness first hand the horrors of war, the skinhead changes his views and attitude towards the Russian soldiers. At the end, when the four friends return to the present day, one of the first things the skinhead does is use a rock to scrape away the swastika marking on his arm.

To me, that wasn't a case of "Russians good, Germans bad", rather, it represented how many people today moan about trivial things without appreciating that it is because of the efforts of others that they have the luxury of complaining about trivial things. Like spoiled teenagers who hate their parents because they won't let them have a new game console or allow them to go out with friends late at night, failing to appreciate that their parents have worked hard to provide them with food to eat, clothes to wear and a roof to sleep under.

The second film we watched was called "The Admiral", a Russian biopic about polar researcher, patriot, admiral and subsequently the supreme governor of Russia Alexander Kolchak. History isn't really one of my favourite subjects, all I know about the film's setting was that during WWII, Russia pulled out of the war and fought amongst themselves. Larissa is from Russia, and after watching the film, she told me that when she was in school, she was taught that the main character of the film, Alexander Kolchak, was a bad person, and that the film "The Admiral" paints a very different picture of him.

To be honest, although there were many people watching the film because it is directed by Andrei Kravchuk, a well known director, I thought the movie was average in terms of story, but the visuals were quite good, the style reminded me of the movie "Titanic" directed by James Cameron. I found it confusing a some points, but I guess the film was made with the assumption that the audience had prior knowledge about what happened in the Russian civil war. Still, it was interesting and it prompted me to learn more about history.