The war film that's not a war film. A film about the mental institution which backdrop is the Chechen war. A story about the patients living in an institution during the war on the border of Chechnia and Russia during the war. The patients have to continue living their day to day life after being invaded twice over, and they have to deal with their sicknesses.Written by
I saw this film yesterday and I'm still under the impression. It was overwhelming. All is brilliant -- plot, acting, images, music...
Certainly, there are motifs from other films -- "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" (for example, the episode when the inmate break out of the asylum), "Dancer in the Dark" (the dreams of Janna) -- but they are organically interwoven in the canvass of Konchalovsky's film.
This oeuvre, like other films by Andrei Konchalovsky, is a result of a happy amalgamation, a synthesis of Western and Russian cinema traditions, which does not happen often.
The film is profoundly artistic and at the same time realistic. This is achieved not least by a careful choice of details. For example, in the background, in the TV screen, you see Boris Yeltsin, the Russian ex-President who started this dirty war, and his corrupt Minister of Defence Pavel Grachov ("Pasha Mercedes").
The verbal language is also true to life. The personages, in particular the Russian military, use quite a few of Russian 'four-letter words', and here the use of such words is fully justified.
I saw the films in a DVD edition (Paramount Classics, 2003) and the only disappointment was the subtitles. The English translation is sometimes too inexact and leaves too much dialogue untranslated. This needs to be corrected in the subsequent edition.
Of course, the best is to see the film in Russian. But even if you do not speak Russian, try to see this film, because it is a masterpiece of a universal value, which transcends the language barriers. Watch it with an open mind.
I wish that all Russians had the chance too see 'The House of Fools'. Then, probably, their perception of the Chechen people would change for the better, and it would also bring them to a reflection about the war in the Caucasus, which is both Russia's crime and illness, and how the country could overcome it.
Thank you Mr. Konchalovsky, thank you all who made this excellent film! 10/10
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