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Khrustalyov, My Car! (1998)

Khrustalyov, mashinu! (original title)
Military doctor General Klenski is arrested in Stalin's Russia in 1953 during an anti-Semitic political campaign accused of being a participant in so-called "doctors' plot".

Director:

Aleksey German

Writers:

Joseph Brodsky (story "In a Room and a Half"), Aleksey German | 1 more credit »
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10 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Yuriy Tsurilo ... Gen. Klensky (as Yu. Tsurilo)
Nina Ruslanova ... Wife (as N. Ruslanova)
Mikhail Dementyev ... Son (as M. Dementyev)
Aleksandr Bashirov ... Idiot (as A. Bashirov)
Natalya Lvova Natalya Lvova ... (as N. Lvova)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Dima Davydov Dima Davydov
Sergei Dyachkov Sergei Dyachkov
Jüri Järvet Jr. Jüri Järvet Jr. ... (as Yu. Yarvet)
Ivan Matskevich ... (as I. Matskevich)
Viktor Mikhailov Viktor Mikhailov ... General's driver (as V. Mikhailov)
Paulina Myasnikova Paulina Myasnikova ... General's mother (as P. Myasnikova)
Nijole Narmontaite Nijole Narmontaite ... Sonya (as N. Narmontaite)
Olga Samoshina Olga Samoshina ... (as O. Samoshina)
Tamara Serkova Tamara Serkova ... (as T. Serkova)
Genrietta Yanovskaya Genrietta Yanovskaya ... General's sister (as G. Yanovskaya)
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Storyline

Military doctor General Klenski is arrested in Stalin's Russia in 1953 during an anti-Semitic political campaign accused of being a participant in so-called "doctors' plot". Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Certificate:

See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Russia | France

Language:

Russian

Release Date:

13 January 1999 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Khrustalyov, My Car! See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Aleksandr Abdulov was considered for the role of General Klensky. See more »

Alternate Versions

The film was released at 137 minutes, and an alternate cut is 150 minutes. See more »

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User Reviews

 
Stalin like you've never seen him before
25 November 2003 | by laurseneSee all my reviews

It's easy to slot away Khrustalyov, mashinu! as either a great and beautiful whatchamacallit, or a hopeless hodgepodge. Actually, it is about something: the Stalinist terror, and the accumulated guilty consciences of the Russians - even many of his victims - after living for a generation under his thumb.

General Klensky (Yuri Tsurilo, in a stunning performance) is a "good" Russian - a doctor who has achieved a position of power and respect under Stalin while, he thinks, maintaining his honor and humanity. That delicate balancing act comes undone when he finds out that he's on the hit list during the "doctors' plot," Stalin's final purge. German's film captures the growing absurdity of trying to rationalize life under a beast like Stalin: His principal characters' lives (and brains) have become as cluttered and confused with attempts to make sense of their own conduct in the face of tyranny as the crazy, stuffed-to-the-gills, attic-like warrens of rooms they live in.

Russia at the end of Stalin is a squalid sprawl of these absurdist dwellings, with only the sinister black cars of the party apparats representing any kind of order, and that the most brutal kind. The violence creeps into everyone's lives, as we watch German's characters slap and spit at and sometimes sexually assault each other. Sometimes it's deadly, sometimes in jest, but always a kind of emanation of the violence visited on them from the terrible man who pulls all the strings.

Millions of people lived under a system something like this in the 20th Century, and German's film is great because it captures so much of the absurdity and brutality they experienced. It shows you how they lived through it, and also how the subterfuges that helped them to do so could often turn around and bite them back - making their survival tactics ultimately useless against the terror. Life under Stalin was a desperate balancing act, represented here by the game of balancing a drink on one's head that one of the minor characters and then, at the end, Klensky himself engage in.

With Khrustalyov, mashinu! it's hard to know where to hand the most praise: The art direction is staggering. All the performances are perfect. The direction is supple and endlessly perceptive. The B&W cinematography is gorgeous. There are signs of the influence of Orson Welles' films circa the 1960s, and especially of Welles' The Trial, with its characters moving through the cluttered warrens of rooms in the Gare St. Lazare. The way German choses to view his characters also reminds me of Bela Tarr's work. But German is a master and Khrustalyov, mashinu! is an astonishing artistic vision of a terrible time in human history.


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