Sunday, 5 July 2009

Andrei Khrzhanovsky "There lived a man called Kozyavin" (1966)

A product of the Soviet State Film School, Andrei Khrzhanovsky's debut film was There lived a man called Kozyavin. This fable of senseless bureaucracy has survived the years amazingly well. Kozyavin is a civil servant who passes incoming pieces of paper from one pile to the next, a mindless routine that is only ended when his boss instructs him to deliver a routine message to fellow employee Sidorov. There follows an unhesitatingly mindless pursuit of that person in a journey that knows no deviation, either of route or in response to any situation requiring independent thought. Thus Kozyavin pointlessly questions the pedestrians passing by on the pavement, a violinist on a stage is interrupted mid performance, a whole construction site ceases activity, a robbery in an art museum is ignored and, most noticeably of all, an archaeologist patiently scrubbing the tip vertebrae of a white and massive dinosaur is approached, Kozyavin walking across the skeleton crunching each segment to dust as he walks. He is oblivious of all the finer forms of life - history, beauty, industry, art, recreation, geography. The movie is a quite marvellous satire on, I guess, the soviet state and one much appreciated at the time by public. It has some remarkable visual metaphors and incident, often surreal, always impeccably drawn. For that reason I have tagged it as classic, for such it indisputably is.

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