Monday, March 12, 2018

Music & Movie Monday ~ Russian Around

In a flea market or thrift store, when we were last out and about, I bought a DVD containing two lesser-known films starring the late and much lamented Robin Williams : Jakob the Liar, and Moscow on the Hudson. Neither title was familiar to us. We eventually got around to watching them last week, one after t'other. It's interesting, and probably the reason they are bundled onto one DVD disc, that Russia has a "supporting part" in each movie.

It's a relief to think about Russia in different lights; all the current, and seemingly endless, Russiagate stuff flying around media and internet got old for me many weeks ago.

In these two movies, Russia plays different characters - in the first Russia wears the white hat and is a factor for good - as was Russia for us in the UK during World War 2. We ought never to forget that if not for their brave armies opposing Hitler's regime, keeping him busy in eastern Europe, Britain might not have survived uninvaded.

In the second movie Russia itself isn't the bad guy in the black hat, it's the KGB and the Soviet regime then in power. Russia itself never is the bad guy - or at least never should be. Ordinary Russians are, I feel certain, just like us. They want peaceful lives, families and friends and to live without undue fear from day to day.

In Jakob the Liar, a 1999 movie set in Nazi-occupied Poland during World War 2, Jakob (Robin Williams) finds a way to combat the overwhelming depression pervading the ghetto, and causing regular suicides among its inhabitants. He lies. He claims that he hears regular news broadcasts claiming that Allied advances, in particular Russian troops, are very close, so relief is near. His plan does lift hearts and refresh optimism - but...and there's always a but... (no more detail!)

Slow, interesting, well played, but ultimately leaving one feeling a tad depressed.

In Moscow on the Hudson, a 1984 film, a younger-looking Robin Williams plays Vladimir Ivanoff, a saxophonist from a Soviet Circus touring in the USA with his troupe. He decides to defect while in New York, and finds refuge with the family of a black security guard he met in a luxury department store. In the same store he also met a lovely young Italian woman working in the makeup department. He is introduced to a shrewd Cuban immigration lawyer to help with his asylum application. So, from these brief details it's already clear that this movie had a diverse cast, and a positive feel for immigrants of all stripes! It's really a multi-cultural romantic comedy with hints of some earnest flag-waving efforts, especially in the later scenes.

Enjoyable movie in spite of the flag-waving potential.

It's Music Monday - and the flavour of the day is...Russia! Enter my favourite Russian composer, Aleksandr Borodin.

Liatoshinsky Ensemble , Kiev, plays Borodin's nocturne during ICF (International Conductors' Festival) under the conducting of Christophe Rody (Switzerland). This piece, and other pieces of Borodin's music was used in the 1955 movie "Kismet". With lyrics added this piece became "And This is My Beloved".


Wisewebwoman said...

Yes I remember the flag waving in the Hudson movie. Didn't see Jakob but it reminded me of that other one, oh lawd, Italian writer and director and a child lied to.

Did u see the Zookeeper's Wife,? Apart from the awful ending a good film.


Twilight said...

Wisewebwoman ~ I don't recognise the Italian writer/director one, WWW. We haven't seen "Zookeeper's Wife" yet, but will make a point of doing so. I can take only one small dose at a time of such admirable, but often upsetting, movies on this topic.