Lidiya Kipr spent all 900 days of the Blockade inside the besieged city. She lost everyone. Ambulance doctors advised her against watching TV for a while – otherwise there would be a risk of another seizure. But she still follows the news flow about the “Blockade comedy”. She only wants an answer to one question – will there really be a movie like that?
Lidiya Kipr, resident of Blockade Leningad: “I would smack that person so hard. I cried non-stop last night...”
The last day of year 1941. Leningrad is fully surrounded. The family of a scientist from top-secret research institute gets ready for the holidays. The Christmas Tree is decorated, chicken is being backed in the oven. Again, 1941. The most horrifying winter of the Blockade.
It becomes clear from the first shots – chubby residents of the Blockade Leningrad are not average people. With a special life. But their little private world is about to collapse. The son brought a starving girlfriend over. The mother is trying to get rid of her – with puns and jokes.
Natalya Bandurina, reporter: “Everything started with this book or, to be more precise, diaries published in it. The year is 1942. Politician Ribkovsky describes a visit to the city committee’s reserves. And here’s how he describes his gastronomic shock – meat every day, lamb, ham, geese, salami, fish and lots of pickled vegetables”
Director Krasovskiy grasped this idea. Gathered actors and filmed a movie in 7 days – with crowdfunding online. Many were convinced by his truth-seeking speech.
Alexey Krasovskiy, director: “This is a story of the people who lived better than everyone else in the hardest times for our country. It happened – and there’s a hope that it won’t happen again.”
Black humor comedy. The favorite genre of C-list Hollywood movies. Gangsters, cowboys and their girlfriends are its usual characters. Alexey Krasovskiy from Russia became the first director to make fun of a tragedy. As people say today, tried to build up hype from an untouchable subject – the Blockade.
Sergey Boyarskiy, State Duma deputy: “Yes, many people learnt about this in a negative light, but thought this could be the reason to go and watch the movie. Which again suggests this story stinks. He should be ashamed of himself”.
Up until now, there has been only one case when the words “Blockade” and “comedy” shared one sentence. When residents of the besieged city described their visits to theatres. People often died on stage and inside the audience. But the comedy plays were always played till the end – those who lived need that.
Ivan Krasko, actor: “We had one of the oldest actors around – and we even had a small joke. We called him “the beacon of the Blockade”. But it was said in a totally positive and loving way. People needed a little bit of light and fairytale with respect to that tragedy”.
80 years on, the author says that social satire in a dying city is merely artistic method. The movie is actually about love.
Alexey Krasovskiy, director: “To all those who are wishing death to me, I just want to say one thing – we made an entirely different movie to how they see it”.
Lidiya Kipr, resident of Blockade Leningad: “I took Kolenka and him urinated himself. And died in the girl’s arms”
Scrupulous historians have already reacted to the movie – which is yet to hit the big screen. A feast amid the plague, described by Ribkovsky, is nothing but the figment of imagination. And it has been proven before.
Nikita Lomagin, historian: “He simply wants to believe in this feast – and Kozlova pointed out irregularities. He talks about Mariinskiy Theatre, about its gorgeousness, but we know for fact that the Theatre was totally run down at the time. The concept that authorities had no problems and were distanced away from the suffering people is false”
But this did not make the city angry. Those who survived the Blockade are not keen on any kind of historic justice. The people of Leningrad only want one thing – to avoid this subject entirely.
Nadezhda, resident of the Blockade Leningrad: “We were invited to a Christmas party, were given tangerines, porridge, cutlets and a loaf of bread”
The Blockade comedy took place at Chistyakov museum in Pushkin. The filming finished long ago, the museum is back to normal operations. Its employees are not too happy to recall the filming process, but – importantly – they were not interested in the subject of the film. They simply rented out the facilities.
The Piskarevskoe Memorial Cemetery. It has always been very quiet here – with the exception of commemorative dates, when the silence is broken here. Beyond these gates is the normal city life. And that is normal. No one would dare to dance here. At least everyone who understands what the Blockade is and have been here at least once.
It seems that Krasovskiy and his crew have never been here. And they should – to have a silent walk amid the tombstones.