Friday, June 19, 2020

Frantsuz / The Frenchman

Andrei Smirnov: Frantsuz / The Frenchman (2019) with Evgenya Obraztsova (Kira Galkina) and Anton Rival (Pierre Durand).

Andrei Smirnov: Frantsuz / The Frenchman (2019) with Nina Drobysheva (Olga Obrezkova, Natalia Tenyakova (Maria Obrezkova) and Anton Rival (Pierre Durand). Gradually Pierre gets on track of his lost father. My screenshot. Please click to enlarge the image.

Француз / A Frenchman.
    RU © 2019 Ano "KADR". PC: Marmot-Film. P: Elena Prudnikova, Andrei Smirnov, Valeri Todorovski.
    D+SC: Andrei Smirnov. Cin: Yuri Shaygardanov – b&w – digital. PD: Vladimir Gudilin. Cost: Ludmila Gaintseva. Makeup: Elena Dmitrienko. VFX: CGF. S: Oleg Tatarinov. ED: Alla Strelnikova. Steadicam: Aleksandr Vdovenko. Quadcopter: Andrei Dontsov. Advisor: Arseni Roginsky (Memorial).
    Soundtrack selections include: Ludwig van Beethoven: Opus 27 Nr. 2: Klaviersonate Nr. 14 in cis-Moll „Mondschein“ (1801), played by Pierre Durand to his father at the Pereslavl-Zalessky House of Culture.
    "Bernie's Tune" (Bernie Miller, 1952) and "Donna Lee" (Charlie Parker, 1947) performed by the jazz quintet of Anton Rumyantsev.
    Poems: "Kogda ya ochen zatoskuyu" (Aleksandr Kushner), "Moroz segodnya krepki" (Igor Kholin), "Ivanovy" (Nikolai Zabolotski).
    Paintings by Oscar Rabin.
    C: Anton Rival (French exchange student Pierre Durand), Evgenia Obraztsova (Bolshoi ballerina Kira Galkina), Yevgeny Tkachuk (VGIK student, photographer Valeri Uspenski), Aleksandr Baluev (Tatishchev, night watchman at a bakery, former Count, former White Officer, Gulag survivor), Mikhail Efremov (Valeri Uspenski's dad, former teacher of Marxism-Leninism, Gulag survivor), Roman Madyanov (Chuhnovski, writer), Nina Drobysheva (Olga Obrezkova, former noblewoman, Gulag survivor), Natalia Tenyakova (Maria Obrezkova, former noblewoman, Gulag survivor), Vera Lashkova (Anna Fedorovna, manager of the house of culture), Evgeny Kharitonov (Oscar Rabin, painter), Thomas Alden (Louis), Anna Neverova (Marusya), Alexander Zamuraev (alcoholic), Manuel Sinor (restaurateur).
    Locations: Moscow, Paris.
    128 min
    Dedicated to the memory of Aleksandr Ginzburg.
    Festival premiere: 16 June 2019 Open Russian Film Festival Kinotavr.
    International Film Festival Rotterdam 2020.
    31 Oct 2019 Walt Disney Studios Sony Pictures Releasing (Russia) direct-to-consumer.
    Corona lockdown viewings / Midnight Sun Film Festival (MSFF) online edition / Films by former Sodankylä guests [Andrei Smirnov: 2006].
    From the MSFF FestivalScope screening platform with English subtitles, viewed at a forest retreat in Punkaharju on a tv screen, 19 June 2020.

Official synopsis: "In 1957, a French student, Pierre Durand, comes to Moscow for an internship at Moscow State University. Here he meets the Bolshoi Theater ballerina Kira Galkina and photographer Valera Uspensky. Thanks to these acquaintances, Pierre is immersed in the cultural life of Moscow, not only official, but also underground. For a year, Pierre has lived in Moscow for a lifetime, completely unlike anything he knew. But internship and acquaintance with different aspects of the life of Soviet people is not Pierre's only goal. He is looking for his father, white officer Tatishchev, who was arrested in the late 1930s." (Official synopsis).

International Film Festival Rotterdam: "By the end of the 1970s, Andrei Smirnov had had enough. One of the best and brightest auteurs to emerge from the Soviet 1960s couldn't stand constant harassment from the authorities anymore, and quit cinema for good. At least as a director; he stuck around as a screenwriter and actor. But then, after 32 years, he returned with Žila-byla odna baba (2011). Now A Frenchman suggests he's back to stay, and will continue directing."

"A Frenchman, the story of a French exchange student's adventures in late 1950s Moscow, makes us painfully aware what a formidable cinematic mind and soul Smirnov has: discrete, educated, good-humoured, politically poignant while never dogmatic – the kind of public intellectual we perhaps need these days more than ever. Watching this film is like looking at a lost world, in more ways than one.
" (Rotterdam)

AA: Andrei Smirnov belongs to the masters of Thaw cinema, debuting before the beginning of Brezhnev's era of stagnation. His most famous film is Belorusski Station, but my own personal favourite is Angel (1967), suppressed at the time along with the episode film The Beginning of an Unknown Era and only released during Glasnost. One of the greatest Russian films of all times.

After a break of over 30 years Smirnov returned to directing films in the 2010s. I have yet to see the acclaimed Once Upon a Time There Lived a Simple Woman. The Frenchman is such a distinguished achievement that it makes me look forward to seeing not only it but all Smirnov's films again.

The Frenchman combines a strong argument with complexity in its account of character and history. It is a historical drama about a young Frenchman in search of his Russian roots. Pierre Durand is a member of the PCF, the French Communist Party, coming to the Soviet Union for the first time in his life in 1957. His father, a French resistance fighter, has died as a prisoner of the Nazis.

Pierre is both an insider and an outsider. Because he has spoken Russian with his mother all his life, he can instantly connect with everybody. Khrushchev has given his speech denouncing Stalin in the previous year, in 1956, rehabilitated millions purged by Stalin and ousted Stalin hard-liners from the party. Durand is aware of this, but the USSR is still full of surprises for him. And yet somehow, however, he is not surprised. This film is not a satire in the Candide tradition. Smirnov avoids clichés and stereotypes while the message remains strong and clear.

The Thaw liberation is real, but we also meet an opportunistic author, happy to be conform, yet giving Pierre the advice: "Keep your mouth shut. Don't speak to anybody". We meet a KGB officer who tries to engage Pierre as an informer, and Pierre even signs a document but never provides anything (instead, he smuggles samizdat poetry upon his return to France). Spies are everywhere. The walls have ears.

We visit legendary official landmarks of culture: Moscow State University and Bolshoi Ballet (Pierre falls asleep during Swan Lake), but we are also taken to the clandestine atelier of the modernist painter Oscar Rabin, an underground jazz club where the sax virtuoso Zubov gives a brilliant performance of "Bernie's Tune", and most importantly, witness the excitement of samizdat poets such as Joseph Brodsky and Igor Kholin. Period detail feels accurate, including vintage radio broadcasts.

The horror of the recent past starts to emerge. Valeri Uspensky's dad, an ex-teacher of Marxism-Leninism, is a camp survivor. Remote relatives, the Obrezkova sisters, former noblewomen, tell about their Gulag ordeal across the Soviet Union, including the Solovki.

Finally Pierre is given the clue that leads him to Pereslavl-Zalessky, to his biological father, the former Count Tatischev, a White officer, believed lost in Gulag. He has survived Kolyma and other chambers of hell. An alumnus of Mikhailovskoe artilleriskoe uchilishche, a master school of mathematics, he has survived by focusing his mind on Gödel theorems and the Russell paradox. He now works the night shift as a bakery guard. It is not a happy reunion between son and father. Pierre is the result of a summer fling, after which mother left Russia and gave birth in France to Pierre whom the Count has never seen before.

Aleksandr Baluev, Nina Drobysheva, Natalia Tenyakova, Vera Lashkova and Mikhail Efremov give the most memorable performances in the film as the Gulag survivors. Their faces carry the legacy of a terrible past. The young ones lose their illusions but not their hope. The final gestures are full of defiance.

The Frenchman is one of the best films I have seen about life during the Thaw. It has been shot in black and white like contemporary classics by Danelia, Khutsiev and Tarkovsky, but in the digital presentation there is a glacial atmosphere like also for instance in Frantz by François Ozon. A lack of warmth emphasizes a probably unintentional sense of alienation including in the two romantic separations of the film, in Paris in the beginning and in Moscow in the finale.


"Valeri Uspensky mentions in a conversation with Pierre the name of "his sidekick Alik" and the independent magazine "Gramotei", which he publishes. This is a reference to the Samizdat poetic almanac Syntax, which Ginsburg produced, and for which he received his first term. All the verses read in the picture are from Syntax."

"In the role of Anna Fyodorovna, the manager of the house of culture in Pereslavl-Zalessky, where Pierre and Tatishchev have a conversation, stars Vera Lashkova, a comrade-in-arms of Alik Ginzburg, a typist who was engaged in reprinting the Samizdat collections “White Book” (files from the Sinyavsky and Daniel trials collected by Ginzburg). The dedication at the end of the film – “In memory of Alik Ginzburg and his friends who wanted to live not by lies” – is addressed to Vera Lashkova in particular."


Ohjaaja: Andrei Smirnov
Maa: Venäjä
Vuosi: 2019
Kesto: 2.08
Kielet: venäjä, ranska / tekstitys englanniksi
Alkup. nimi: Frantsuz
Kategoria: Subtitles in English, Uuden elokuvan helmet

Olaf Möller (MSFF): "Huolimatta Nikita Hruštšovin puheen ”Henkilökultista ja sen seurauksista” paljastuksista Neuvostoliiton kommunistisen puolueen 20. puoluekokouksessa vuonna 1956, olivat sitä seuranneet vuodet yhä upeaa aikaa olla nuori ja kommunisti. Pierre Duran, elokuvan nimen ranskalainen, matkaa vaihto-oppilaaksi Neuvostoliittoon. Mutta hänen matkansa tosiasiallisella syyllä (matkan itsessään on täytynyt olla noina aikoina mahtava seikkailu!) ei ole juurikaan tekemistä korkeakouluopintojen kanssa: venäläiset sukujuuret omaava Pierre haluaa saada tietää enemmän alkuperästään – perheestään yleensä ja isästään erityisesti. Mielihalu, joka vääjäämättä tekee elämän hankalaksi hänen läheisilleen…"

"Loistavat näyttelijät, mahtava mustavalkokuvaus, kunnioitettava kerronnan tahti ja antaumus: The Frenchman saa katsojan tuntemaan tuskallisen hyvin Andrei Smirnovin väkevän elokuvallisen mielen ja sielun: Diskreetti, sivistynyt, kultivoitu, rakastettava, poliittisesti terävä muttei koskaan dogmaattinen – sellainen porvarillinen intellektuelli, jota näinä aikoina tarvitaan ehkä enemmän kuin koskaan aiemmin, eikä vain Venäjällä. The Frenchmanin katsominen on kuin kadonneen maailman tarkastelua – ei vain Neuvostoliiton vaan kokonaisen elokuvakulttuurin menneisyyttä…
" (OM)

ANDREI SMIRNOV (s. 1941), kuuluisan sotaromaanikirjailija Sergei Smirnovin poika, oli yksi Brežnevin ajan Neuvostoliiton kirkkaimmista ja hienoimmista auteureista. Vaikka Smirnov ohjasi esikoispitkänsä Palanen maata (Pjad zemli) jo vuonna 1964 (yhdessä Boris Jašinin kanssa), kului seitsemän vuotta ennen seuraavaa mestariteosta Sotakaverit (Belorusski vokzal, 1974), joka sijoitti hänet neuvostoelokuvan kartalle. Smirnovilla oli jo ollut vaikeuksia viranomaisten kanssa hänen osallisuudestaan hyllytettyyn omnibus-elokuvaan Natšalo nevedomogo veka (1967); kun hänen seuraavat pitkät elokuvansa Syksy (Osen, 1974) ja Veroi i pravdoi (1979) joutuivat myös virkakoneiston hampaisiin, hän luopui elokuvien teosta 32 vuodeksi, kunnes palasi siihen kunniakkaasti elokuvallaan Žila-byla odna baba (2011). Välivuosina hän työskenteli teatterissa ja näyttelijänä.


    Антон Риваль — Пьер Дюран, французский студент
    Евгения Образцова — Кира Галкина, балерина Большого театра
    Александр Балуев — Татищев, ночной сторож на хлебозаводе, в прошлом белый офицер, бывший заключённый
    Евгений Ткачук — Валерий Успенский, фотограф
    Михаил Ефремов — отец Валерия Успенского, бывший преподаватель марксизма, бывший заключённый
    Роман Мадянов — Николай Кузьмич Чухновский
    Нина Дробышева — Ольга Кирилловна Обрезкова, дворянка, бывшая заключённая
    Наталья Тенякова — Мария Кирилловна Обрезкова, дворянка, бывшая заключённая
    Вера Лашкова — Анна Фёдоровна, завхоз дома культуры
    Лилия Багирова
    Евгений Харитонов — Оскар Рабин
    Александр Замураев — алкоголик
    Марина Барсукова — Жанна, альтистка
    Люси Арон — Николь
    Жереми Дюваль — Жан-Мари

В 1957 году французский студент Пьер Дюран приезжает в Москву на стажировку в МГУ. Здесь он знакомится с балериной Большого театра Кирой Галкиной и фотографом Валерой Успенским. Благодаря этим знакомствам, Пьер погружается в культурную жизнь Москвы, не только официальную, но и подпольную. За год в Москве Пьер проживает целую жизнь, совершенно не похожую на всё, что он знал. Но стажировка и знакомство с разными сторонами быта советских людей — не единственная цель Пьера. Он ищет своего отца, белого офицера Татищева, который был арестован в конце 30-х.

At the very beginning of the “Frenchman”, Smirnov acquaints the audience with three representatives of French youth sitting in a summer cafe on the banks of the Seine, and if the pronounced “leftist” Jean-Marie (Jérémy Duval) seeks to immediately distance himself from everything bourgeois, although he was mobilized for war in Algeria, then the communist Pierre (Anton Rival), a graduate of the prestigious Ecole normale, unexpectedly takes the side of France’s geopolitical interests and openly argues that the land in this colony is abundantly watered with the blood of several generations. Pierre is preparing to leave for the USSR, where he intends to study the influence of his compatriot Marius Petipa on the Russian ballet school and undergo an internship at Moscow State University.

Дерзну упомянуть, как на рубеже 80-90-х годов режиссеры, родившиеся еще до войны, вдохновенно снимали правдивые и искренние фильмы о советском периоде нашей истории. Это и Лев Кулиджанов, «Умирать не страшно» (1991), и Петр Тодоровский, «Анкор, еще анкор» (1992), и Андрон Кончаловский, «Ближний круг» (1991), и Александр Прошкин, «Холодное лето пятьдесят третьего», и белорусский режиссер Михаил Пташук, выпустивший в 1989 году фильм «Наш бронепоезд». В этот ряд встает Никита Михалков и его «Утомленные солнцем» (1994) и Владимир Бортко с «Афганским изломом», Павел Чухрай с фильмами «Вор» и «Водитель для Веры» и, конечно, экранизация Владимиром Фатьяновым рассказов В. Шаламова «Последний бой майора Пугачева», не говоря уже о сериалах, «Завещание Ленина» Николая Досталя, «В круге первом» Глеба Панфилова.
— «Крик души о беспамятстве поколения». Протоиерей Георгий Митрофанов — о том, почему надо смотреть фильм «Француз» // Православие и мир : интернет-портал. — 2019. — 22 ноябрь.


Marcos Pantin said...

Thanks for the information you give in your Blog.
Would you be so kind to tell me where I can find subtitles to the movie "Frantsuz / The Frenchman"? Thanks a lot!

Antti Alanen said...

Dear Marcos, I would recommend the production company Marmot-Film, the Russian distributor Walt Disney Studios Sony Pictures Releasing or some other company that you can discover in the IMDb (Internet Movie Database) in the Company Credits file of Frantsuz! Best regards, Antti