33 user 13 critic

Pro urodov i lyudey (1998)

Dariya the maid getting a boy to touch her large breast is just one incident that occurs when Yohan and Victor infiltrate two families, forcing young Liza and blind Ekaterina to appear in porn, but they are not so innocent themselves.


Aleksey Balabanov

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10 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Sergey Makovetskiy ... Yohan
Dinara Drukarova ... Liza
Anzhelika Nevolina ... Ekaterina Kirillovna (as Lika Nevolina)
Viktor Sukhorukov ... Victor Ivanovich
Alyosha Dyo Alyosha Dyo ... Kolia (as Dyo Alyosha)
Chingiz Tsydendambayev Chingiz Tsydendambayev ... Tolia
Vadim Prokhorov Vadim Prokhorov ... Putilov
Aleksandr Mezentsev ... Doctor Stasov
Igor Shibanov Igor Shibanov ... Engineer Radlov
Darya Yurgens ... Grunia (as Darya Lesnikova)
Tatyana Polonskaya Tatyana Polonskaya ... Dariya
Olga Straumit Olga Straumit ... Nurse
Richard Bogutskii Richard Bogutskii ... Notary
Valeri Krishtapenko ... Owner of photographic studio
Evgeniy Erokhin Evgeniy Erokhin ... Priest


Dariya the maid getting a boy to touch her large breast is just one incident that occurs when Yohan and Victor infiltrate two families, forcing young Liza and blind Ekaterina to appear in porn, but they are not so innocent themselves.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Drama | History


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Release Date:

1998 (Russia) See more »

Also Known As:

Of Freaks and Men See more »

Filming Locations:

St. Petersburg, Russia See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

CTB Film Company,Soyuzkino See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs





Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Referenced in Vdud (2017) See more »


Leaf from an Album (Lyric Pieces, Opus 12)
Composed by Edvard Grieg
Arranged by Vladimir Radcenkov
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User Reviews

The medium is the message in this intriguing chronicle of the early days of Russian pornography
7 December 1999 | by Jasper-18See all my reviews

One of the disadvantages of being an Englishman living in Amsterdam, of course, is that the linguistic barriers impose some pretty severe limitations on ones cinematic diet. However, given that the choice between watching films like this and the likes of the 'The Phantom Menace' would have yielded the same conclusion whatever language it was to be viewed in, I am pleased to say that my embryonic graspings of the Dutch language were sufficient to cope in this particular case. Whether this can be put down to simplistic subtitling, the succinct approach to dialogue of Russian films, or director Alexei Balabanov's grasp of the fact that in the hypothetically visual culture of cinema, actions speak louder than words, is debatable. Whatever; I came, I saw, and I enjoyed.

Director Alexei Balabanov, whose 1997 debut was 'Brother' ('Brat'), has here created a fascinating tale around the subject of pornography in turn of the century St Petersberg. Johann (Sergei Makovetsky), a purveyor of salacious erotic autochromes of staged flagellation scenes, along with assistant Victor, worms his way into the lives of two noble families, drawing adopted Mongolian conjoined twins Kolja and Tolja and the delicately beautiful Lisa (Dinara Drukarova) into his enterprise as subjects for his short erotic films.

From the early blue-tinted scenes detailing the birth and background of the twins, set to a soundtrack all but silent save for the presence of hisses and scratches, to the vivid invocation of a feverish preoccupation with all things sexual welling beneath the austere trappings of the Russian bourgeoisie, Balabanov lyrically invokes the spirit of the times. 'Of Freaks and Men' is nothing if it is not beautiful and evocative, crisply photographed in monochrome by cinematographer Sergei Astakhov. There is dark quirky humour here, and a host of eccentric periphery characters, from the lustily compliant serving maid, to a blind wife, and Johann's snaggle-toothed henchman. Visually the film is consistently rich and fascinating.

The premise, of course, is guaranteed to offend the more conservative of viewers. The numerous whipping scenes as well as the portrayal of Johann's treatment of the twins are sure to prove distasteful to those approaching with a more polically correct viewpoint, though the studied art direction and period stylistic veneer distances the viewer to some extent. This, after all is a film about the origins of pornography, and it is not really pornographic in itself. It also touches on a fear of technology (in this case, the emerging medium of cinema), and how that new technology can either empower or enslave. Despite the rather flaccid denouement, and at times seeming slightly overblown in its characterisation of Johann (whose dominance is more usually manifested by means of a handgun rather than a camera), the intriguingly original premise and stunning sepia-toned cinematography should prove ample reward for the curious viewer. After all, there are not a lot of Russian films getting shown over here at the moment.

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