The film's story takes place in Moscow in the 1970s. Its plot unfolds around the love triangle between two young men and a girl who study at the same university. They argue, make up, and ... See full summary »
The film's story takes place in Moscow in the 1970s. Its plot unfolds around the love triangle between two young men and a girl who study at the same university. They argue, make up, and face their first disappointments and victories. While busy with personal lives and loves, they miss foreseeing that the country in which they were born and live will soon disappear from the map. Written by
We see few Russian films here in the U.S. and our familiarity with modern day Russian life is limited. Here we get a view of life in the Brezhnev 1970s. "Vanished Empire" reassures us that the Russians are just like everybody else, save for social conditioning and a scarcity of consumer goods. It's convincing characters are warm, animated and full of very familiar foibles. But it is charming how readily family and friends "do" for each other there,enthusiastically.
Yet this is a society so parched for Western-style consumer goods that a used Japanese radio can get a buddy out of police custody, a nice jacket plus gas money can induce a cab driver to take someone to the hinterlands and back.
Sergey, the focal character, is well and charmingly rendered by young Aleksandr Lyapin. Like a lot of 18 year old college boys he is impulsive and easily suggestible. His romance with girlfriend Lyuda is in full bloom but a call from his comrades can make him forget his commitments to the lady. More than once Sergey shows that loyalty to his buddies trumps faithfulness to his lover.
Sergey's inattention to those who love him and his hijinks in school are forgiven, up to a point, because of his youth and charm. But the carefree life and luck of a teenager cannot last. Life becomes serious and the due bill for self-centered presumptions is, inevitably, presented.
The women characters in this film are long suffering. Though not ill-treated physically, they are never valued above male comradeship. Their needs are not thought of, or not taken seriously. Lyuda's treatment by Sergey reminded me of the comment of an American exchange student who had boyfriends in the Soviet 1970s. Asked if she ever considered marrying any of them, she said "No." She said that, in Russia, a woman might be loved but she will never be respected. Jim Smith
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