The cinema has ceased to be a sacred pulpit for “cathedral” experience and co-reflection, where the author dominates, to be replaced by home projections, entirely dependent on the consumer, on his willingness to experiment and think. Yes, and people are not there for the cinema: at a time when all ideas about humanism flew into space, the scene of the heroic rescue of Norwegian sailors by the distraught “Bullfinch” seems to have flown from other romantic times. . The perception of any art determines the context in which it is situated.
The idea is based on the Thaw 60s story “Three Minutes of Silence” by Georgy Vladimov, but only the canvas, the cover, remained, so we will not refer to it. There is a film – the brainchild of director Boris Khlebnikov and playwright Natalia Meshchaninova. This is your time and your vision of it. The look is hard, although understanding: this is our country and our people.
Two salags of a sailor, Max (Oleg Savostyuk) and Nikita (Makar Khlebnikov), go on a trip on the “Bullfinch” seiner. The first wants to seriously master the trade, the second goes for the company; for him, this is like an economy class trip and a way to earn money for Thailand. The purse seiner is old, rusty, groans in all joints; His team is motley, the faces are hardworking, the manners are silent, the vocabulary is ordinary. The laws of the sea are rude, as are the jokes of the sea.
It will be difficult for eighteen-year-old novices – a boat trip will become a test of all human qualities. It’s not just another generation, it’s a different ideology of life. And the main conflict is the clash of these ideologies. Sailors became accustomed to iron cages instead of cabins, accustomed to dirt and squalor as the norm. The meaning of his life is to pull a net with a winch, cut off the heads of fish, and then in the closet, instead of a booth, slurp borscht under a boring video. You can calmly finish the bottle by eating a coconut chocolate bar. There is a catch – there will be grandmothers, there is no catch – you can, covering the antenna with a bucket, “invisibly” go into the abundant waters of other people to the Norwegians. This team has types, but no personalities.
There are characters, there are no personalities. There are skills, there is courage, but there are no signs of a meaningful and purposeful life. Norwegians for them are like aliens – something strange and incomprehensible, they can heroically save themselves in a fit of excitement, but there is no common language and cannot be. Yes, and that heroic excitement, if you feel it deeply, is not dictated by reason, but by instincts.
Against this background, the young and incipient generation, with its incomprehensible interests, looks unforgivably fragile, in the film it is scary. In the simple world of endless, but not conscious asceticism, both guys did not come, but entered. Yes, these are people of a different, more comfortable age, they are an offensive contrast to the crew of the rusty “Snegir” with their rusty ideas about life, anchored in the distant past. The ship’s clown Yurik (Timofey Tribuntsev) will jump on them with his caveman jokes. They will be taught the art of sharpening a knife, like the highest of mathematicians. Only one of the sailors, Gennady (Alexander Robak), will awaken something like paternal feelings, and then he will be able to find out from the guys that his companions, his daughters, want another fate. And when it turns out that for Nikita work is not the whole meaning of life, and when asked who she will become, the guy will directly and boldly answer: “Only!” – for him it is an axiom, for them – something alien, not ours, generally beyond comprehension.
Newbies still have a lot to learn before they become human. To prevaricate, for example, to prefer the lie to the truth. Cheating little by little, pulling other people’s until they get caught: it used to work, and now it will. Lead the investigator by the nose, mutually escaping any responsibility. This is the law of such a life, and all the undertakings that we witness in the film end in nothing. The capture will not bring joy or benefit. Who is to blame for the senseless death of a person will be unknown – the investigation will be drowned in a web of command lies. Yes, and among the tribe of an unknown young man, daring is limited to a tour of Thailand, without claiming to be tall, kind and eternal. And I don’t know if a seine net full of dead fish pulled from the sea was evidence of budget problems for the film or a cleverly concocted metaphor for a life no longer viable. This is one of the rarest cases in cinema when the plot is not a story that can be told, which has a beginning and an end, but an endless state that can only be expressed. The disappearance of the narrator, the protagonist of Vladimov’s story, is not a whim of the writers, but a sign of a radical change of eras and societies.
All of Boris Khlebnikov’s films, from Free Swimming to Crazy Help, from A Long Happy Life to Arrhythmia, which for me remains the pinnacle of his work, add up to what Belinsky called an encyclopedia of Russian life. Each movie opens its own page, each time – to family heartbreak. Like the same song from the coachman’s manual that spills sadly into frozen space century after century, without changing words or melancholy.