It’s been a while since I wrote not about American movies. So, I thought today would be the right time to write about Russian movie. And this time I’ve picked the adaptation of Nikolai Gogol’s horror story “Viy”.
The premiere of the movie was in the beginning of 2014. In Russia this film was promoted really strongly, but the real question is: was it worth it? Sure, the box office was huge and the numbers showed it was some kind of the record. But is the movie itself so great, that without this huge promo it could to raise all that money?
Personally, I don’t think it would be so, and I don’t think that this movie is THAT good. And there, in my opinion, are certain reasons for that. But about everything in order.
First of all, I think, the biggest disadvantage of “Viy” is the fact, that this isa remake of a famous 1967 “Viy”, which was a huge hit back 1967 USSR and long after that, because it was the very first and official horror movie in Soviet Union. Although, ir you’d watch it now, you would think it’s a nice fairy tail. But I think it’s hard to compare a new thing with something that was so glorious in the past and still is.
Second of all, the plot of 2014 “Viy” (I know, it’s weird to call movies like this, but how else I should separate them?) was changed from the 1967 “Viy” and original Gogol’s story, because it was loosely based on the story. Not entirely based like the one, made back in 1967. Now, this time the creators added some fictional characters, like Nastusya, Petrus, Jonathan Green. And I think this was not a good idea, because:
- These fictional characters became leading ones, and the whole story was narrated around them. Sure, it’s not forbbiden to do so, it’s a documentary, where you have to be accurate, but sadly, it did’nt work well either. Maybe it’s because there’s a huge audience that has seen the earlier version, or, maybe, because it has not much to do with the original story, that people like. I don’t. It just somehow for me this idea didn’t work;
- Original main characters (Khoma Brutus, Pannochka) weren’t the main characters as they should have been, and this was kind of strange for me. It’s like all Gogol’s story was turned upside down. And I also felt some kind of an emptiness here, watching this story. It’s like creators took this idea, but haven’t worked everything out, they haven’t thought everything through. Sadly.
Thirdly, I think I should mention the cast. It’s an interesting phenomenon when a movie has this great cast of actors, and yet there’s something missing. In 2014 “Viy” starred actors, like Charles Dance, Jason Flemyng, and Russian actors like Andrey Smolyakov, Oleg Taktarov, Yuriy Tsurilo, Valeriy Zolotukhin, who are truly talended, good and famous actors. Still, nothing. 😦
Talking about actors, in 1967 version of “Viy” the cast was also really good: Leonid Kuravlev, Natalya Varley an others. Of course, back then they were all young, just starting their acting carreers, not the legends of soviet and Russian cinema, like they are now. But even though they were so young, their presence in movie didn’t damage it ( because sometimes that happens).
The fourth thing, I should mention about 2014 “Viy” would be visual and special effects of the film. Now, this was mad with reality good quality. All computer graphic based stuff was done with exceptional accuracy, bautiful. Every creature was made so real, so truthful. The make-up for actors was also done really professionally. I think if you’ll watch this movie just to watch it, without getting into the plot, I think you would love it.
What else fascinates me, is that back in 1967 (Soviet Union!) all the creatures were created (by hand, I assume, there was no computer graphics back then in USSR) and the quality for that time is stunning. It really is. Still.
Now, this time my entry looks like a review, or a little analysis of the film. Usually, I write differently about movies. Oh, well :). But I think I will make up to you by telling some interesting stuff about the two movies.
- Let’s start with who is that Viy? Well, it’s kind of interesting, because no one really knows whot it is. Gogol, on the other hand, claimed that Viy is the King of Gnomes as it is a character of ukranian folklore. But none researcher of Ukranian folklore have found anything about Viy in folklore. So, there’s an opinion that Viy is only the imagination of Gogol, that he created this creature.
- Another interesting fact is related with 2014 “Viy”. Not everyone knows, but it took eight years to create, finish and release this film. Why did it took so long? Well, basically because of the money; at first it was because of at the same time there were two more projects based on Gogol’s stories. And soon after the wordly crisis stopped the process.
- Now let’s get back to 1967 “Viy”. Some people claim, that this film is cursed, because it brought bad luck to the actress Natalya Varley, who played Pannochka. There’s a scene where dead Pannochka comes to life and starts to fly inside of the church, while sitting in a coffin. It is thought that a live person shouldn’t lie in a coffin pretending to be dead, because he might truly die soon. N. Varley didn’t die, she’s alive, but she said in some interviews that after this scene (the one that I just told about) her life changed to the worse:she faced a truly serious health problems, that she couldn’t overcome for a very long time. Nonsense? Maybe. Who knows. I don’t know. I just think there are some, maybe mystical, maybe unexplainable things in our lives, that just exist, and no one can proof their existense.
(Watch from 4.45 min.)
So these are my notes originally about 2014 “Viy”, but also, a little bit, about 1967 “Viy”. I don’t know why, but this time I wrote like this, hopefully I didn’t fail by changing my style a little bit. 🙂