Friday, January 30, 2015

'Leviathan' vs The Russian Status Quo

I thought I'd put another post up for all my Russian fans (I get more hits from Russia than anyplace else), but really, if you want to keep up you should hit my Tumblr blog or Twitter feed @101_To_LA

'Leviathan', Russia's official entry for this year's Oscars, and Golden Globe winner for best foreign film, has been pretty soundly denounced by the Russian powers that be as a deluded vision created by an anti-Putin propagandist.
Neil MacFarquhar’s write-up at NYT has some fairly entertaining bits of damage control. I like this one:
Russia’s culture minister, Vladimir Medinsky, a conservative historian, led the attacks even though his ministry provided a significant portion of the movie’s budget. He acknowledged that “Leviathan” showed talented moviemaking, but said that he did not like it.
I found an interesting article in the New Republic titled “Meet the Second-Rate Academic Who is Vladimir Putin’s Culture Cop. Vladimir Medinsky is nationalist and anti-European, just like Putin.” (In the URL they use the word ‘toady’). This pretty much sums it up:
Before he was appointed minister of culture in 2012, Medinsky published a series of books debunking “myths” about Russia—a text that attempted to refute any negative fact or opinion, including widely accepted truths, such as the poor condition of Russia’s roads.
Medinsky’s work has been met with scathing criticism by Russian historians, who claim that he did not complete original research and that his work is high-school level, at best. 
It’s a good read, but back to the NYT story. They attribute this to Medinsky:
"However much the authors made them swear and swig liters of vodka, that doesn’t make them real Russians."
Good as that is, this is even better:
“ ‘Leviathan’ is a filthy libel against the Russian church and the Russian state,” Kirill Frolov, an Orthodox activist, wrote on his Facebook page, later dismissing accusations of restricting freedom as immaterial. “ ‘Leviathan’ is evil, and there is no place for evil in the cinema.”
Much as the state opposes the movie it can be seen in Russia. It’s currently playing in Moscow, although that version has been scrubbed of foul language as required by a new Russian law which prohibits such speech in movies, music, and various writing.

The law took effect in early May 2014, a few weeks before ‘Leviathan’ played at the Cannes Film Festival.


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