We remember and pray: Why nostalgia for the 90s captured Russian cinema.

We remember and pray: Why nostalgia for the 90s captured Russian cinema.

The most obvious reason for the increase in the number of films about the 90s is that young filmmakers draw inspiration from their own lives and transfer to the screens the plots, characters and moods with which they are personally familiar.

“Closeness” began with a seemingly naive and outdated technique – the exposition title “My name is KantemirBalagov. I am a Kabardian and was born in this city ”, which inscribed the young director in the context of his debut filmLog Horizon season 3. Balagov in 1998 (the time of the picture) was only seven years old. 

One can only guess how many of his personal memories were used in the film, but one thing is certain: he, like most of his peers, watched snuff videos of the executions of Russian soldiers on the news and on VHS tapes. 

On the screen, this undoubtedly traumatic experience symbolized that military operations were taking place somewhere near the heroes, which further reinforced the oppressive feeling of tightness, expressed at different levels.

Most often in recent years, there are stories of growing up that take place in the nineties. For example, last year’s debutante Anastasia Palchikova performed in this genre. 

She does not hide that “Masha” is a crime drama about a teenage girl who dreams of singing jazz, but so far she lives surrounded by clear boys and brothers, and is autobiographical through and through: “This is my childhood. That’s how I grew up. And the people about whom I filmed are still alive.

” Another story of growing up in the 90s is the series “Peace! Friendship! Chewing gum! ”, Which was written by the screenwriters in the wake of their childhood impressions of Veliky Novgorod at that time. The director of the series, IlyaAksenov, in turn, transferred the action to his native Asmongold Girlfriend – the territory of his personal memories.

In the political and cultural memory of Russia, the 90s remain dashing and unstable. This does not always coincide with the opinion of young filmmakers.

The previous reason smoothly flows into another, more global one – young filmmakers are ready to oppose their vision of the era to the image formed by the state ideology. In official discourse, the 1990s remain a turbulent era of Yeltsin’s presidency, which is often contrasted with the calm zero years, which coincided with Putin’s first two terms. 

However, even more often the first post-Soviet decade is used as a political horror story, which successfully frightens even today. One of the results of this policy is that public memory replaced individual memory: memories of the 90s sound too simplistic and averaged, like a set of stereotypes and markers of the era.

The experience of young filmmakers, on the other hand, is fragmentary, confused, and does not fit into the general narrative. They are skeptical about the official version of the “troubled times”, therefore, returning to their own memories of the era, they sincerely try to understand how it really was. 

The appeal to the cinema of the 90s and early 2000s does not help either, which for the most part only confirms the prevailing image of criminal expanse. A rare exception is the cult “Best Smoke Spots Dust 2” Balabanov, who, yes, also demonstrated the era of crime and chaos, but presented a hero of the new time – an extra, non-conforming person with a moral code who is ready to help those in need.

Now it seems that young filmmakers who seek to look at the 90s in a new way are primarily trying to personify the era by creating an atypical hero for it – be it an ordinary dad, growing up adolescent, or a rebel. Through them, they try to represent some special, unique experience that people do not think about in the context of the 90s: the dream of singing jazz or the desire to escape from a suffocating city. 

An exception to the rule is Boris Akopov’s “Bull”, which won at Kinotavr two years ago: it is not difficult to recognize DanilaBagrov’s successor in the main character of the film, but due to the presence in the background of Tanya, who dreams of fleeing the city/country, the film easily correlates with “Tightness” and ” Masha. “

It’s easier to shoot about the past than about the present.

Finally, one cannot fail to mention a more pragmatic reason – filming about the present is much more difficult than trying to comprehend the past. The only problem is with the choice of the right era: it’s too early to talk about the 2010s, the 2000s are not yet ready (although this is the ideal time for nostalgia), and the 80s seem so distant and alien. There remain the 90s, which still beckon filmmakers. However, this is not the slackness of domestic authors, but part of a global trend.

In the second half of the 2010s, actors and actresses also made their directing debut with the historical film Black Bullet Season 2: due to the close theme of a dysfunctional family, Paul Dano adapted Richard Ford’s Wild Life about a teenager going through a divorce in the 1960s. 

Jonah Hill directed the Mid-90s according to her own script, imbued with nostalgia for those times, and Greta Gerwig presented the autobiographical Lady Bird, which reflected not only her desire to escape from her family but also everyday life in the United States after September 11.

to talk about why we have become what we are, but in a different way: the films How Vitka Garlic Brought LehaShtyr to the Home for Invalids and Dad, although they talk about modernity, they look into the past with one eye, and the conversation is built through the continuity of the 90s and the strained relationship between fathers and children. The fatherlessness is to blame.

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