Pesnya o shchastye
1924 year. Kavyrlya fell in love girl Anuk. An old owner soliciting Anuk, conceived a hatred youth. A fight as a result of that both appeared in the river was once strung, and Lebedev began ... Read all1924 year. Kavyrlya fell in love girl Anuk. An old owner soliciting Anuk, conceived a hatred youth. A fight as a result of that both appeared in the river was once strung, and Lebedev began to sink. Frightened accusing of murder, Kavyrlya started in runs and, once meeting a thief... Read all1924 year. Kavyrlya fell in love girl Anuk. An old owner soliciting Anuk, conceived a hatred youth. A fight as a result of that both appeared in the river was once strung, and Lebedev began to sink. Frightened accusing of murder, Kavyrlya started in runs and, once meeting a thief and tramp, decided to keep company to him.
I usually despise Soviet propaganda movies, and that's only partly because I despise communists. I despise Nazis too, but most of the propaganda movies made by the Third Reich were skilfully done, subtly invoking heroic figures from the past (such as Friedrich Schiller) rather than shilling explicitly for Hitler or the swastika. ('Triumph of the Will' and 'Jew Suss' were not typical.) In comparison, most of the Soviet agitprop movies I've encountered are very crude propaganda indeed, employing all the subtlety of the bludgeon and the cudgel.
This movie, 'Song of Good Fortune', is one of the very few *well*-made Soviet propaganda movies I've ever seen. If someone totally ignorant of communism's bloody history saw this film, they would probably believe that Stalinist collectivism is a very good thing indeed. I was especially impressed with the film's use of flashback to establish the hero's backstory.
Mikhail Viktorov plays a young hermit who lives in the forest, playing his wooden flute like Papageno in 'Die Zauberflote'. This young flautist crosses paths with a petty crook (Boris Tenin) who wonders why Viktorov lives in the woods. In flashback, we learn that Viktorov worked for a kulak (a bourgeois land-owner), but got into a fight that caused the kulak to fall into the river, presumed drowned. (Nikolai Michurin gives a good performance in his brief role as the kulak.) Viktorov was forced to abandon his girlfriend (Yanina Zheymo) when he fled to escape punishment for the kulak's death. I found it unlikely that Viktorov's character would confide this to someone he's just met, but Viktorov's performance makes his character seem genuinely guileless.
Tenin persuades Viktorov to accompany him to a high-street market, where Viktorov is wrongly arrested for theft. Now we see him in a Soviet prison, I mean re-education centre. Our hero has much to learn, comrade. The October Revolution transpired while Viktorov was living in the woods ... so now killing a kulak is a revolutionary act, not a homicide. When Viktorov tootles his flute for his fellow inmates, the prison governor recognises his talent and summons a music professor (Vladimir Gardin) who can tutor the tooter to toot sweetly toot-sweet. As fast as the projectionist can change reels (and credibility is reeling too), Viktorov becomes a good Soviet comrade, using his musical talent for the greater good of the collective. And his former girlfriend is still keeping a candle burning in her tractor for her tooter suitor.
Pass the borscht, and I'll have mine with vodka. The prison in this Soviet movie is a bright airy place where all the inmates are treated with sympathy and understanding. Somehow, I doubt that the Lubyanka (or any other prison in the *real* Soviet Union) had this much sweetness and light. The exterior sequences in this movie are beautifully photographed, and the actors give better performances than usual for a Russian movie. I'm well aware that everything done here is in aid of the single most monstrous regime in human history, even worse than the Nazis ... but this movie does very well what it set out to do. I'll rate 'Song of Good Fortune' 8 out of 10. Back to the salt mines, tovarich!
- F Gwynplaine MacIntyre
- Jun 18, 2005