‘Pricey Comrades!’ Evaluation: When the Get together Line Turns into a Tightrope
In 1962, Soviet authorities forces violently suppressed a strike towards rising meals costs in Novocherkassk, a metropolis within the Don River area of southern Russia. It might be many years earlier than the occasion obtained acknowledgment from official sources. A Okay.G.B. report, revealed after the autumn of the Soviet Union, mentioned that 20 our bodies from the “liquidation” had been “buried in numerous locations.” However for years, the slaughter was obscured from public view. Our bodies? What our bodies?
The Novocherkassk bloodbath, because it has turn out to be recognized, doesn’t happen till simply earlier than the midway mark of “Pricey Comrades!” Directed by Andrei Konchalovsky, the movie dramatizes these occasions primarily from the vantage level of Lyuda (Julia Vysotskaya), a metropolis official on the native Communist Get together headquarters. Seen a technique, nearly the whole lot proven earlier than and after the violence constitutes the bleakest of bleak comedies, as bureaucrats attempt to sq. the emergence of a strike with the state’s narrative of socialist prosperity.
Lyuda, whose place affords her hypocritical entry to alternative items, understands that her committee will take the blame. Clearly, the “clarification” course of that she’s concerned in — explaining why staff ought to settle for elevated meals prices, at the same time as their wages fall — “didn’t make clear far sufficient,” she says. She waxes nostalgic for the times of Stalin. Formally, nothing unhealthy came about then both, though Khrushchev has simply expelled Stalin’s physique from Lenin’s tomb as a part of a revisionist tack. “Why didn’t he say something whereas Stalin was alive?” Lyuda asks, in a rueful recognition of previous denial.
Such incongruities between phrases and circumstances may be comical if Konchalovsky didn’t so seamlessly infuse every scene with a tense, sickening feeling of inevitability; in a bracing method, it’s tough to pin down the tone of “Pricey Comrades!” in any given second. Rioters consider that Soviet troopers received’t hearth on them. Excessive-ranking officers don’t see the purpose of a military with out munitions.
Later, after the carnage — which Konchalovsky, maybe finest recognized in america for the taut motion movie “Runaway Practice” (1985), renders in fast, brutal strokes — the objective turns into erasing it. Blood that the solar baked into the pavement can all the time be paved over. Lyuda, whose daughter (Yulia Burova) was embroiled within the protests and goes lacking after they’re over, may be capable to save her — by writing a report calling for instigators to be proven no mercy. The Okay.G.B. points nondisclosure agreements concerning the occasions. (What can’t be disclosed? Something. What’s the penalty? As a lot as demise.) In probably the most grimly absurd scene, Viktor (Andrei Gusev), a Okay.G.B. agent who finally turns into Lyuda’s confidant, tries to clarify the preposterous scope of the pledge to a nurse — then, upon studying she was within the crowd, has her arrested on the spot.
Konchalovsky enhances the screw-tightening environment with a claustrophobic visible type. “Pricey Comrades!” is shot in black-and-white and in near-square picture dimensions as an alternative of wide-screen. Even the selection of angles, with an emphasis on doorways and personal areas, contributes to the sense of lives lived furtively.
Not rated. In Russian, with subtitles. Operating time: 2 hours 1 minute. Watch by means of Movie Discussion board’s Digital Cinema.
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