Yegveny’s impeccable dedication to quality continues on. Now our second movie of the flight has started, it’s what seems to be a 1960s Technicolor puppetoon film in the vein of Tom Thumb or Babes in Toyland.
This starry-eyed young man in some tavern says goodnight to the girl he’s in love with, and then starts talking to the marionettes in the common room. We have wide screen VHS but Japanese subtitles, and sound that only comes in once every seven seconds or so. So I am watching this grainy fairy tale (some Mother Goose lady is yelling down a well now, the starry-eyed boy is now in some kind of dream land I guess, wearing a toy solidier uniform and moving through a cave of skeletons while the old lady directs him from outside the well). Anyway, no audio I thought I’d put some BGM to the film, and since Russian hop-hop didn’t fit, I went with elevator music. But this channel is now some kind of Tales from the Crypt radio show.
So to summarize, I’m listening to what sounds like a Russian haunted house narrator, watching some Technicolor folktale, and reading very crude Japanese subtitles. And to think I was bemoaning the lack of alcohol for this trip (yes, it’s an all charge system, despite the eleven hour flight).
Old lady danced off, the hero wants to get back up, shoots his musket up at the winch outside the well that lowers the bucket. Climbs out and is now chasing after a cartwheeling grandma while we have closeups of a cat intercut into the film. Old lady’s head is cut off, rolls across the ground, her body replaces it with cabbage. Gold coins fall out of the old lady’s basket, and now the cat is transformed into some Chaplin-looking dude. Maybe he was under a spell or something from the witch.
Money talks. After a song and dance routine involving milk maids picking potatoes in the field and a bunch of chimney sweeps, the soldier returns to the candy colored town and with the aid of some gold coins at the city gate gets into town. Now he’s running around getting all gussied up in the latest pastels and what not, I guess with all that loot he took from the woman he beheaded.
Well, the movie stopped and has been off for about ten minutes or so. I suppose someone complained about the lack of audio and the politburo decided that in the interests of equality no movie was better that movie sans sound.
I like looking at the map of Asia as time goes by. I get to see the names of all of the Siberian cities. A good number of them are familiar to me since I read Farley Mowat‘s The Siberians a couple years ago. Talk about your weird media choices. Here’s a book that was written thirty some years ago during the peak of Soviet expansion for natural resource exploitation. Farley Mowat is an interesting guy to start with, but him writing about a time, place, and culture completely foreign to me (and him) adds so many layers of imagination it’s mind-boggling. I’ve never even seen a picture of Siberia, but the images in my mind are fantastic; endless snow, quiet, sparsely populated frontier towns, scrub tree lines, constantly dark, overcast skies, and a cavalcade of vivacious, land-hardened individuals pounding vodka like its going out of style and raving about the future of engineering and the Soviet Economy.
The Siberians is probably the bulk of the reason that I’ve dreamt of going to to Russia for so long. My expectations are so high; actually going there and spending time alone under that great, big, sky is surreal. I think it would be both a long and difficult trip, being off the beaten path as it is. Like China, I have to apply for a visa even to get into the country for a short vacation.
(An Olsen twins movie dubbed in Russian started and then was promptly abandoned after about a minute of opening credits.)