"Brother" is a movie considered iconic with its main character who became a national hero in Russia. In fact, watching this movie dispels any doubts that it is a great film.
One of the astonishing phenomenon of this movie is that the main idea is so artfully hidden, so the most of viewers who adore this film don't get it right (it demonstrates the great skill of the director).
The main character, Danila Bagrov, who has a name of the Bible prophet, came to Sankt-Petersburg. Sankt-Petersburg was the "criminal capital of Russia" in 1990s, its inhabitants had got bogged down in violence and venality (like the "sin city of Babylon"). Danila exposed some "bad people" to retribution, thereby delivered justice and at the same time unselfishly helped some "good people". At the first glance the main idea and a positive image of the main character are obvious (it's shared by the most viewers).
But what did Danila leave behind him besides killed people, broken destinies and confusion in people's hearts on the scorched earth? What mission did he have and what about did he prophesize? That is the question..
Surely, the murders which he committed were caused forcibly, not by his bloodthirstiness, although during the film it becomes obvious that Danila undergoing challenges of "sin city" reveals himself as a part of this system; He was dragged into the same sins, playing according to rules of violence by the same means: cunning and force, with the only difference - his weapon managed to overtake his enemies faster than they could overtake him.
The main point here that in such a war there are no people who are right, and a fighter against the evil is not necessarily for good. Danila reflects the vices of reality around him - he doesn't like Jews, Caucasians, Americans (by the way, his name is originated from Hebrew but likely he doesn't think about it). He is produced by that age and doesn't have any reference points or purposes. Danila defines power by the violence ("the strength is in the truth" will come later, in the ideologically opposite sequel). His power is destructive, not constructive. For Sveta (a woman who he likes), acquaintance with Danila ends up as tragedy. Her even more hopeless life isn't his fault because it's provided with her inner brokenness, and not without reason she drives a tram which as we all know can't roll of the rails. At the end of the film German Gofman pass a verdict to Danila: "a city is a evil power, a strong man comes and becomes weak here, so you too". By the way, Gofman here is an obvious arguer (i.e. a character who tells the author's opinion), he distanced himself from the "sin city" as he is a homeless marginal living among the dead (in a cemetery), that let him keep his purity in the middle of human dirt.
No wonder that all Danila's actions are only his reaction to circumstances around and they are not caused by his own purpose and impulse. Danila himself can't get an answer to the question he asked to the German, "why do we live?"...
Dmitry Bykov (a famous Russian writer) noticed recently that Danila Bagrov is a symbol of the emptiness. During the film we often can see a "transparent" tram which demonstrate Danila's emptiness. But a "transparent" tram is a symbol of not only of him but also an emptiness of the age of timelessness in which all of Russian people has ended up. Perhaps, this is the main thing here: acute pain for country with its unfulfilled expectations, torn by the beasts in these "stone jungles", the absence of any sense in what is happening around and the heavy, oppressive uncertainty of its future ... "Russia, where are you riding? Give an answer. It doesn't give an answer. "
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