June 17, 2015
Movie of the Week: Star (2002)
This highly popular movie (almost two million viewings on Mosfilm’s youtube channel) is available here, complete with English subtitles.
As I was translating Russia 2015: Who are we, and what do we want?, I couldn’t help thinking about this particular movie which embodies Birov’s main points very nicely, to the point of Birov’s article in effect serving as running commentary to the movie. It may well be that Karen Shakhnazarov who directed both Star and the much more recent White Tiger is the current General Director of Mosfilm because he grasps Russia’s national idea perfectly well and incorporates it into his movies so seamlessly that one might not even notice it otherwise, that’s how natural and self-evident is the fit.
Consider, for example, the long-range reconnaissance team’s ethnic composition, and recall what Birov has to say about the definition of “Russianness”, and the role ethnic Russians play within that multi-ethnic nation of which the elite unit is a microcosm. Furthermore, even though Star doesn’t use “magical realism” to nearly the same extent as White Tiger, watch the last minutes of the movie (specifically Captain Barazhkin’s narration monologue) and reflect on what Birov means when he quotes Vysotskiy’s “our fallen are our sentries.”