Lobster’s adventures

On the merger of the real and virtual worlds in the works of Philip Colbert

Reading time 3 minutes

Actual art is often perceived as the antithesis of the traditional, when the artist breaks with its old forms and patterns and creates something fundamentally new, and — most importantly — consistent with the interests of the modern public. The most unusual means of expression are used now. The more extravagant these methods are, the better: it’s more likely to surprise the viewer. Many art objects in galleries today are perceived by visitors as “divorced” from aesthetic samples of past years. Philip Colbert’s work (by the way, some find similarities between him and Andy Warhol) is another example. This British artist manages to saturate classic painting subjects (such as a hunting scene) with elements of modern reality, recreating their original meanings.

Like a bolt from the blue
Like a bolt from the blue

«I became an artist when I became Lobster», — said Philip Colbert in an interview. Exactly this fictional character in bright pajamas, placed in the center of most Colbert’s paintings, reflects the author’s alter ego. For him, Lobster became a kind of mediator between the real and virtual worlds, which, according to Colbert, today are often mixed and become difficult to distinguish. The influence of the consumer society and, as a consequence, mass culture (one of the main topics for this very artist), which for Lobster turned into a struggle for survival, is ironically played out in many works, which at first sight amaze in their own way with aesthetic randomness and wide color spectrum.

Find your alter ego!
Find your alter ego!

«I believe the duality in my work is expressed primarily in the use of very bright colors — festive, positive and cheerful, which convey positive energy, but with dark, gloomy subtext, scenes of violence, as well as a reflection of the modern cult of consumption and the negative effect that it is having on our planet», — explains the author.

The charming Lobster is at the center of events
The charming Lobster is at the center of events

Colbert boldly mixes time periods and styles, collecting his own cultural code from disparate fragments. It contains dozens of logos of popular brands, faces of recognizable artists of past eras, landscape elements, pop-ups of social networks, and even references to surrealism (for example, Salvador Dali’s elephants in the background of an artwork).

Everything we can imagine is real
Everything we can imagine is real

Lobster Land is a semi-fiictional/semi-real world. An alternative reality, overwhelmed by the possibilities of choosing a wide variety of goods and entertainment for any taste (though first you have to «obtain» it). However, perhaps the most difficult thing for someone who once appeared there, is not to lose his or her head and return to the earth in time!

5 reasons to watch Patrick Melrose

Not recommended for the faint of heart, but still...

Reading time 6 minutes

In 2018, German filmmaker Edward Berger premiered the mini-series «Patrick Melrose», which tells the story of the eponymous hero’s attempts to deal with the traumas of his past and live a life of dignity. The project did not receive an unequivocally enthusiastic response from the audience but was nevertheless extraordinary. This article explains why it’s worth watching.

  1. An atypical role for Benedict Cumberbatch

One of the most in-demand actors, not only in the UK but worldwide, admitted in an interview:

«I think my strength is in my brain, not my muscles. But that doesn’t embarrass me. It is very easy to look clever. It is much harder to play smart. But, because I grew up in high society and went to one of the oldest schools in the world, I have to play asexual sociopathic intellectuals for the rest of my life…»

Benedict Cumberbatch as Melrose Jr.
Benedict Cumberbatch as Melrose Jr.

So Patrick’s eccentric role is an entirely different one. The protagonist claims to be a self-destructive leader in every possible way: alcohol, drugs, promiscuity – the list does not end there. Not every film gives you the opportunity to watch an almost completely demoralized Benedict dancing in a drunken stupor.

  1. Visuals.

«Patrick Melrose» is full of its own aesthetic: in places bright and juicy, like the fruit on the trees that grows outside the luxurious Melrose villa, in places depressing and gloomy, highlighting the spiritual poverty of the individual characters (no spoilers).

Benedict Cumberbatch as Melrose Jr.
Benedict Cumberbatch as Melrose Jr.

The detailed interiors complement the style of the recreated time. The same applies to the choice of locations (the French countryside alone) and the costumes of the characters: together, they create a harmonious picture that is particularly pleasant to look at in natural, warm light.

sun was shining. What else was it supposed to do? - Patrick Melrose
The sun was shining. What else was it supposed to do? – Patrick Melrose
  1. The sound of music

The musical accompaniment to this story also leaves no one indifferent. The retro atmosphere here is not just in the picture, but also in the soundtracks. The pilot episode, for example, is accompanied by the Cat Stevens song «Wild world», as if preparing the viewer for a mental transport to a couple of decades ago. Except that as one gradually delves into Patrick’s childhood and learns details of his interactions with his parents, it becomes difficult to call the nostalgic mood evoked by the music a restful one.

A person can lose their mind because they are experiencing an emotion that they have to suppress. - Patrick Melrose
A person can lose their mind because they are experiencing an emotion that they have to suppress. – Patrick Melrose

The series also has a place for original soundtracks, with emotional responses ranging from anxious and disturbing to melancholy and alienating.

  1. A witty tragicomedy

Patrick’s story is a coherent narrative not only and not so much about the ways in which he destroys his ‘normal’ life, but about the reasons that have made the latter unbearable (primarily mentally). Melrose was born into a well-to-do aristocratic family, but his background and wealth did not make him happy. His mother’s indifference and his father’s unreasonable, perverted cruelty turned little Patrick’s life upside down for many years to come. The relationship within the family is a central theme of Berger’s mini-series, and one which all of us can feel particularly strongly about.

Forgiveness is an important thing, especially when you are forgiven. - Patrick Melrose
Forgiveness is an important thing, especially when you are forgiven. – Patrick Melrose

With each series, the life of the protagonist grows more and more hopelessly detailed.  Nevertheless, his story is presented in an interesting, even amusing and satirical way so that we want to watch it through to the end (even if it is psychologically difficult).

  1. A chance to compare the series’ experience with the books

The plot of the series is based on the series of novels by Edward St. Aubyn, whose work is highly regarded by the performer of the title role. The series of books is called a modern classic, noting the author’s distinctive style with its inherent sincerity, impartiality and irony. It is important to note that the works about Patrick Melrose are largely autobiographical: their idea was inspired by real events in the life of St. Aubyn.

 

Great artists – truth or myth?

Dispelling myths about 5 great painters

Reading time 6 minutes

Art of the turn of XIX-XX centuries – what is it? Great? Breakthrough? Unexpected? Undoubtedly. But the word «different» better describes the art of this period.

The second half of the 19th and 20th centuries gave us many great artists and genres. And individual masters have become tightly associated with their directions in art. Does no one doubts that Kazimir Malevich – Suprematist, and Auguste Renoir – the pioneer of Impressionism?

But there were artists who did not identify themselves with those styles at all, as is commonly believed. Today we will tell you about five of the most famous of them.

Salvador Dali

Salvador Dalí
Salvador Dalí

What is the question? Obviously, he is surreal… however, stop. In fact, the most famous surrealist painter in 1939 was excluded from the group of surrealists, and for the next 53 years of his work he was not the official representative of this direction. From their conflict, by the way, was born the phrase of Dali «I am not a surrealist, I am surrealism!»

Dali discovered his own unique technique – the paranoid-critical method, which differs from the method of the surrealists. And despite the fact that Dali is now considered the greatest representative of Surrealism, for most of his career he formally belonged to a different style.

Edouard Manet

Edouard Manet, «А Bar at the Folies Bergere», 1882
Edouard Manet, «А Bar at the Folies Bergere», 1882

In many sources, Édouard Manet is ranked alongside Claude Monet and the Impressionist company. In fact, Edouard was their predecessor. Of course, Manet communicated with the Impressionists and was interested in their work, but he himself denied any involvement with this style. On the contrary, throughout his career Manet strove for an official professional appraisal – that is, the recognition of the Salon, which the Impressionists opposed. And Manet never even once exhibited with them.

Edvard Munch

Edward Munch «The Scream», 1893
Edward Munch «The Scream», 1893

Next on our list is the author of the famous «The Scream» and other masterpieces. The direction of the artist, it would seem obvious – expressionism. But no! Expressionism evolved much later and independently of Munch. Meanwhile, the Norwegian master the young expressionists considered the ancestor of the direction and were inspired by his work.

But Munch himself created under the influence of Symbolism – a style of which he was a contemporary.

Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo (years of life: 1907-1954)
Frida Kahlo (years of life: 1907-1954)

The Mexican artist was considered by her contemporaries to be a Surrealist (particularly André Breton). But Kahlo herself categorically denied it (although she actively exhibited with the surrealists). She said that she «painted only her own reality and was not into fantasies». Plus Kahlo had no special education, and in combination with her formal features her work is referred to as the direction of naive art.

Bonus

Leonardo da Vinci's drawings: Portrait of a Man in Red Chalk (left) and Vitruvian Man (right)
Leonardo da Vinci’s drawings: Portrait of a Man in Red Chalk (left) and Vitruvian Man (right)

Leonardo da Vinci – who was he?

The author of «Mona Lisa», «Vitruvian Man», «The Last Supper» and many other masterpieces which everyone knows for sure. However, the master never positioned himself as an artist. In the Renaissance, science and art were two sides of the same coin, and an outstanding man had to prove himself in different fields. Leonardo da Vinci referred to himself not as an artist but as an engineer (for example, in his resume, which he sent to the Duke of Milan in 1482). Another indication that painting was not his main occupation is how few paintings he painted.

Of course, the boundaries of styles in art are very conditional – everything is adaptive and subjective, each work of art is unique and combines many elements. But we have tried to dispel 5 common myths about well-known artists, based on generally accepted norms.

All that is known about the 2021 Grammys

Nominees, scandals, date, and new records

Reading time 5 minutes

The Grammy is the most prestigious music award in the world. Each year the National Academy holds an award ceremony. A jury of producers, sound engineers and musicians award the artists by voting. Each musician dreams about gaining at least a Grammy nomination. Here’s what you need to know about the 63rd Awards.

When and where?

The awards ceremony will be on 31of January at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. It has been held there for 40 years, since the beginning of its broadcasting. It’s not yet clear what format the event will take: it all depends on whether the coronavirus situation in the U.S. worsens. «We will make a decision about the audience and the carpet closer to the date,» the Grammy website says. In addition, the names of the presenters and performing artists are unknown.

55th Grammy Awards, 2013

Beyoncé got the most nominations.

After the «Black is King» album released in July of this year the singer got 9 nominations. Now Beyonce has 79 nominations and 24 statuettes. If she wins 8 more, it will be the record-breaking quantity of Grammys. In addition to Beyonce Dua Lipa (5) and Billie Eilish (4) lead the way in the number of nominations.

A still from Beyoncé’s visual album «Black is King» 2020

BTS’s first serious nomination

BTS is a Korean boys band that continues to break records and conquer the West. The guys finally received Academy recognition and a nomination for «Best Pop Duo/Group Performance» for their song «Dynamite». Their hit topped the Billboard Hot 100 music chart for two weeks. BTS will compete for the statuette with other pop stars: Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift.
The band did not receive a nomination for «Best Album», although their release «Map of the Soul: 7» was recognized as the best-selling album in the first half of 2020.

BTS on the carpet at the 62nd Grammy Awards, 2020

The Weeknd vs. the Grammys

This year’s announcement of nominees was not without scandal. The Weeknd did not receive any of the nominations and accused the Academy jury of corruption. There really is the reason for doubt: the album by Abel Tesfaye (The Weeknd’s real name) exploded all the charts and received critical acclaim. It’s all the more strange that the singer’s work has been ignored.
Abel shared his thoughts on his Instagram page. «The Grammys are still corrupt. You owe me, my fans and the industry in general», he wrote. Drake, Ariana Grande and Halsey supported the performer and agreed with his words

The Weeknd’s «After Hours» album cover, 2020

Russians in the West

Two musicians from Russia received nominations at once. Pianist Daniil Trifonov will compete for the award for «Best Solo Instrumental Classical Music Work» for his performance of Rachmaninov. The second, conductor Maxim Emelyanychev, was in the «Best Opera Recording» category. Leonid Agutin, who originally applied for five categories, received no nominations after the Academy vote.

Daniil Trifonov was nominated in the category «Best Classical Instrumental Solo Work»

VR technology in contemporary art

What happens when science, technology and painting are woven together?

Reading time 5 minutes

On October 16 the M’ARS Center for Contemporary Art opened an exhibition of Evgeniya Maltseva‘s works «FLUIDS – a meta-connection of art and technology». The project was supported by «Art Dynamics» studio and musician Anastasia Martyanova. The exhibition will run until January 10, 2021.

«FLUIDS» is an experiment by Evgenia Maltseva. Her paintings are combined with holographic digital animation. The artworks are accompanied by music created by Anastasia Martyanova in the genre of expressionistic realism.

Work by Evgenia Maltseva, presented at the  «FLUIDS» exhibition (source: ArtMoskovia)

The goal of the exhibition project is to penetrate into the inner structure of a person’s life and influence their future destiny. The artist believes that this can be done through image, sound and word. «Through art I want to restore the broken details of life», says Evgenia Maltseva.

Artist Yevgenia Maltseva (source: AiF Udmurtia)

The exhibition was created using VR-technology. Virtual reality is a world created by technical means. VR refers to immersive technologies that blur the line between the real and the fictional. The trend began to develop actively in 2014, after Facebook acquired the startup Oculus VR.

The new media space became an attractive platform for artists. They found in it an alternative way to express themselves. Gretchen Andrew is a London-based artist who worked at Googlé for several years. Deciding to go into art, she combined art and technology in her work. The artist creates pictures using Google Glass. Gretchen shoots a show about the process of creating the artwork. She presents her art in a VR gallery created for Oculus Rift glasses.

Gretchen Andrew’s «Malignant epithelial ovarian cance» (source: Wikimedia Commons)

Australian designer and illustrator Stuart Campbell (creative pseudonym – Sutu) has been creating three-dimensional paintings for the last 10 years. VR-technology allows the viewer to become part of the picture.

Work by Australian artist Stuart Campbell (source: VR-Journal)

Another outstanding VR artist is Eric Parker . He brings his surrealistic worlds to life. The plots of his paintings turn into a dystopian film about the possible future of the earth.

Eric Parker «Switchstance Bay» (source: ARTANDHOUSES)

Exhibitions of VR artists began to take place more and more often in museums and galleries. In the mid-noughties, the M’ARS center even appeared in Moscow. The founders want to regain the audience’s interest in art by using new technologies. Therefore, M’ARS shows works by famous artists such as Hieronymus Bosch, Edvard Munch, Salvador Dali, and Claude Monet using VR.

Photo from the exhibition YOLO: You only live once (source: M’ARS Center)

With the onset of the pandemic, the rapid transition of art into the digital space began. It is now possible to visit museums without leaving home. For example, the Pushkin Museum has a virtual platform, and the Tretyakov Gallery has launched online exhibitions. To learn more about the world art of the 21st century, we advise to watch a series of videos on the Artifex channel.

The look of artworks is increasingly a hybrid of science and technology. The breaking down of physical barriers and the opportunity to become part of the process brings art to a new level of communication with the audience. «The field of art has boldly stepped into the digital», states international art dealer and independent art digital expert Catherine Schneide

Reading time 6 minutes

Banksy is a British street-artist and a political activist. He is the most famous graffiti artist in the world but works incognito. Banksy’s mysterious personality makes him and his art extremely intriguing and popular: the artist’s works are worth millions of dollars and exhibited by top world galleries. 

Today Banksy’s anonymity has become his unique feature and seems to be a metaphorical part of his image. However, its origin is pretty simple. In Britain there is a law about property damage that protects some city buildings. Drawing graffitis on their walls may entail serious legal sanctions.

A monkey mask and a black shirt – a basiс Banksy’s look

«In the era of the Internet and social media it is hard to hide something. Banksy remains anonymous, and this fact itself is a piece of art. Still, the main factor is the talant, not the artist’s personality. His art is perceived differently by everyone, but the irony, sophistication, and complexity of his works is obvious», — says the founder of street-art festivals Ivan Panteleev to «Kommersant».

1. A girl with a hoop

Someone made a graffiti of a girl spinning a tire-like hoop on a wall of some Nottingham building. This work appeared in October 2020. There was an abandoned bicycle without a tire near the mural. Several days after the graffiti had appeared Banksy posted the picture of this work on his instagram page.This was a confirmation of him being the creator. This place instantly became one of the most popular both for the citizens and tourists.

«Everyone needed such a ray of positivity in these corona times », — Nicola Marshall said to BBC when she came with her son to see the mural.

Cr: BBC
Cr: BBC
2. EU flag without a star

This work is dedicated to inglorious Brexit. The long procedure of leaving the EU caused some backlash in society. The mural shows a worker that is removing one star from the EU flag.

Cr: RBС
Cr: RBС
3. Slave labour

The graffiti was spotted on a wall of a London store in 2012. It shows a little boy bending over a sewing-machine. He is sewing together several British flags. This work is Banksy’s reaction to the news about usage of child labour for souvenirs’ production for 2012 Olympics.

This mural appeared right before the birthday of Elizabeth II. A year later this part of the wall was removed and stolen.

Cr: RIA News
4. Balloon girl

A child with a heart-shaped balloon emerged on a wall of a central London building in 2004. Some believe that the graffiti is a metaphor of hope. Others think that it symbolizes the cruelty of modern society which forces children to grow up yearly and abandon their dreams.

Later Banksy made a copy of his work on a canvas. In October 2018 on the Sotheby’s auction it turned out that the frame had a shredder inside.The canvas self-destructed after it was sold for 1.4 million dollars. This was a projection of the creators’ discontent with the sale of his work.

Cr: Gazeta.ru
5. Kissing coppers

This is one of the most famous and controversial works of the British artist. Banksy portrayed two passionately kissing policemen. He wanted the public to pay attention to the problems of LGBT-community. After time passed, the graffiti turned into a symbol of rebellion. Due to a grand backlash it disappeared: it was covered with black paint by anonymous people.

Cr: bit.ua

Banksy doesn’t reduce himself only to street-art. In 2010 he became a director of the movie “Exit through the gift-shop”, it was nominated for the Oscar. Additionally, several years ago the artist opened an amusement park called “Dismaland”. However, the park had nothing to do with conventional entertainment: it was a platform for modern artists and their works.

Angels and “demons”: did aliens really contact saints?

Depictions of UFOs in Christian churches and pictures since the 11th century

Reading time 4 minutes

Did the humans descend from Adam and Eve? Not quite, some of the researchers say. We can see an increasing amount of assertions and so-called “facts” that human beings are under the control of aliens.  Some ufologists state that extraterrestrials allegedly contact some of us. However, the Church’s official representatives do not just reject all these statements but even a theoretical possibility of such kind of “interaction” between a man and “beings from other planets and not just”. Why does the Church with so much vigor try to “retain its monopoly” on the Human Origins?

2014 almost the whole scientific community was curious about an unusual finding. A strange fresco with a supposedly depicted flying saucer was found in a Romanian church. Moreover, the same kind of enigmatic inscription from the Bible was written at the bottom of the image in German: “Israel hoffe auf den herrn” (“O Israel, hope in the Lord”). Apart of a flying saucer, in this story we face 2 more additional mysterious facts:

  1. The fresco dates from the 14th century and there is an original line in German, although Bible was translated by Martin Luther only in 1522.
  2. At that time there lived the ruler of Wallachia Vlad II who was father of Vlad the Impaler also known as Vlad Dracula.
Biserica Manastirii, or Church of the Dominican Monastery, in the town of Sighisoara, Romania (14th century)
Biserica Manastirii, or Church of the Dominican Monastery, in the town of Sighisoara, Romania (14th century)

One more similar discovery happened in 2017 in Georgia. There, during the reconstruction of the church, scientists found the mural painting of 12 apostles and Jesus during the crucifixion dating from the 11th century. At the top of the picture one may see 2 unknown flying objects which resemble alien spaceships.

"Crucifixion of Jesus" on the walls of the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, Georgia (11th century)
“Crucifixion of Jesus” on the walls of the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, Georgia (11th century)

Two other images of the Jesus’ crucifixion with flying saucers being present are the “Crucifixion of Christ” in the monastery Visoki Decani dating from the 14th century and a picture “La Tebaide” created  by Paolo Uccello (1396-1475) .

“Crucifixion of Christ” in the monastery Visoki Decani, Kosovo (14th century)
“Crucifixion of Christ” in the monastery Visoki Decani, Kosovo (14th century)
“La Tebaide” Paolo Uccello (1396-1475)
“La Tebaide” Paolo Uccello (1396-1475)   

So, what do the Church’s officials say about the “extraterrestrial contact” and existence of other civilizations beyond Solar system?

Regardless of being Orthodox and Catholics, Jews or Evangelicals priests are convinced that all the information from so-called witnesses is nothing else as a part of their vivid imaginations, nightmares or even a proof of their sinfulness and connection with the devil.

One of the most logic explanations of such kind of Church servants’ reaction is just a lack of this sort of information in holy scriptures. The Church fears to lose its impact on people, its dominating presence in people’s life in terms of accepting the fact of existence of more developed and powerful forces. It fears to get a lower rank position in people’s world outlook and as a consequence a loss of its respect and authority.

"Baptism of Christ" Aert De Gelder (1645-1727)
“Baptism of Christ” Aert De Gelder (1645-1727)

Anyway, it looks a bit illogical from priests’ side that in view of the absence of information they do preserve only a negative attitude regarding flying saucers as they are depicted in temples near saints and not in a “hostile” way. Why in case of their existence cannot they be helpful to us?

A good example of it is a depiction of Moses receiving commandments from God. It is a world-famous fresco which is placed on one of the walls of the Belgian Cathedral Conti Dotremond.

A painting on wood near the castle Conti Dotremond, Belgium. Moses is receiving the tablets. Date and artist unknown
A painting on wood near the castle Conti Dotremond, Belgium. Moses is receiving the tablets. Date and artist unknown

It depends on you whether believe or not in aliens and their possible “visits” to our planet but in no case we have a right to accuse somebody to be inadequate, mentally ill or “linked to the Lucifer” as it sometimes happens. Nevertheless, we should not trust everyone who has seen “them” as too many people create stories for different reasons.

Theatricality in Cinema

What is the relationship between these two arts

Reading time 4 minutes

What makes the languages of theater and cinema so different but at the same time so good complement each other?

Perhaps the most obvious difference between the cinema and theater is that the first one is fragmented. To achieve the desired effect, the director can use many takes – he has a few chances to «replay» the planned. But the viewer has no opportunity to «touch» the action. Film production and the process of consumption of the finished product by the viewer are separated in time.

«Stop! Cut!»

On the contrary, theatrical processes are continuous. The performance implies constant interaction with the viewer, who acts as a «creator». The degree of influence of production depends mainly on the audience involvement, its concentration on what is happening «here and now».

The theater is the art of reflecting (c) Konstantin Stanislavsky

The degree of the conventionality of both cinema and theater is closely connected with communication (mainly non-verbal) between actors and audience. The emotional connection of the viewer is a necessary condition. The theater aims to unite actors and spectators in a single spiritual effort. But both cinema and theater strive to lead us to a state of “secondary belief” – appealing to our personal experiences, associations, and feelings. We empathize with the characters, project the events and behavior of the characters on themselves, interpret meanings, and rethink what we see.

Another important feature is the illusion of reality, and in cinema, it is much higher than in the theater. The director is able to recreate almost any historical epoch, and modern technology makes this task much easier. In the theater, all «special effects» are built-in, and the main mechanisms of influence are the actor’s mimicry and scenery. Spatial restrictions (stage frames) also have an effect.

Cinema should make the viewer forget that he is sitting in the movie (c) Roman Polanski

There are films that are on the verge of theater and cinema. «Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead»(1990, directed by Tom Stoppard) and «Anna Karenina» (2012, directed by Joe Wright) are interpretations of classics in which the artistic possibilities of theater and cinema complement each other.

In the first of them, the techniques of anachronism, demonstrative violation of sequence and visual citation (these resources give the cinema) are combined with the involvement of the heroes-observers in the course of the action: the world for them at some point becomes theater, they move to the stage, in the heart of Shakespeare’s «Hamlet» – so there is an external conditionality (theatrical feature).

There are two ways to become an artist. The first is to do what everyone thinks is art. Second: to make everyone think that what you are doing is art (c) Tom Stoppard

In the second – we meet the excessive acting mimicry and live plasticity, striking the splendor of scenery (the illusion of the place) with the effect of «behind the scenes» (in the design of the back of the stage).

Shootings of the film “Anna Karenina” (2012, directed by Joe Wright)

Another interesting example is «The Hateful Eight» (2015). Quentin Tarantino borrows from the theater a method of narrative division into acts: the film consists of chapters, each of which becomes our «guide» in a confusing, dark, and bloody story. Interesting here is the mise-en-scene transferred from theatricality, designed to reflect all the components of the inner life of the heroes, resulting in a struggle between them – both on the moral and ethical as well as physical levels.

«They don’t come here without a good reason»…

The theater has something to offer to the film industry – the possibilities of its language, if used by the director correctly and appropriately, are really able to make a film brighter visually and deeper – in the sense.

«Requiem for a Dream»: a manual for a drug addict or a tragic and beautiful story?

The anniversary of a cult movie is the time to review and rethink.

Reading time 11 minutes

In 2020 the film «Requiem for a Dream» celebrated its 20th anniversary. On the occasion of the jubilee, Darren Aronofsky decided to release the director’s version of the film in 4K on October 13. We decided to remember the film, which is familiar to virtually everyone and discuss our impressions.

«Requiem for a Dream» on the screens again (source: KinoPoisk).

The plot

Female perspective

The plot of the film is quite simple. Aronofsky presents us four main characters: Mrs. Goldfarb (Ellen Burstyn), her son Harry (Jared Leto), his girlfriend Marion Silver (Jennifer Connelly) and their mutual friend Tyrone (Marlon Wayans). From the first minutes of the film we learn that each of them has a certain dream: Sara Goldfarb wants to do a popular TV show, Harold and Tyrone are eager to get rich, and Marion sees herself as the owner of a designer store. There is a weighty obstacle between the heroes and their goals – drugs. Addiction becomes the main obstacle to the dream, making all their plans unattainable. All plotlines are brought to a logical end: four heroes pass through summer, autumn and winter. Their destinies are gradually collapsing, and at the end of the film the tragedy reaches its climax. The director managed to find the balance between the storylines and to reveal each character to the full extent.

Carefree “summer” Harry and Tyrone, frame from the film (source: KinoPoisk)

Men’s view

I would not agree with my colleague. Yes, each of the heroes has a dream, but it is not what Aronofsky brings to the surface of the plot. The problem is not drugs, but that the characters are too deep in dreams and illusions because of weak will. Yes, Marion dreams of creating her own clothing brand, but take into account the financial situation of her parents. If the girl behaved more seriously, they would support her endeavor. But is it the main thing for her? In fact, Marion herself wants to spend her life next to Harry and to realize herself. The last one, in a very distorted form, she gets at the end of the film. Yes, Harold and Tyrone dream of a «pound of cleansing» (453 grams of pure heroin) and wealth. Is this what they live for? No! It is important for Harry to be with Marion. She was the first person he thought about during the amputation of his hand. His meaning of life was Marion, not money and drugs. He dreamed that she would succeed in the fashion industry and become truly happy. Tyrone wants to become a significant person in society and is ready to do everything for his «ideal» future. This is shown in a scene where he enthusiastically agrees to work for a drug lord for money and status. In reality, each of them just wants to find his place in life. The drugs in «Requiem for a Dream» are a metaphorical curtain on the window. Heroes dream of getting into the street, but do not go out. They prefer to draw the curtain and not to think that there is a neat yard outside their room. And because they «pull the curtain» regularly, they forget about the existence of the world around them.

Acting

Female perspective

The selection of actors in this film was, as it seems to me, extremely scrupulous. Aronofsky approved for the role of those who will immediately arouse the sympathy of the audience. While watching the film, the characters are not disgusted, but rather compassionate. This is a very well thought out move. Of all the cast, the most memorable is Ellen Burstyn. Her heroine gave me the creeps.

Ellen Burstyn as Sara, frame from the film (source: Yandex Zen).

Men’s view

It’s hard to argue that the cast is definitely beyond any criticism. I would especially like to mention Jennifer Connelly. If the theme of drugs is far from your worldview, the motivation to continue watching will be the charming beauty and stunning game of the main character.

Directing and production

Female perspective

The film was filmed beautifully. Colors, frame staging, scenery and views – all in the same style, pleasing to the eye. The business card of the film is the famous splices of the frames, embodying the use of substances. The film is imbued with the aesthetics of that time and society. The strongest scene is shown at the end of the film picture, where all four heroes lie in the embryo position, embodying their helplessness.

Tyrone in embryo position, frame from film (source: KinoPoisk)

Men’s view

Stunning «Hip-hop» montage from Aronofsky and just an unreal number of splices! The ingenious breakdown of the film into seasons reminds «The Seasons» by Vivaldi. Montage allows us to feel the pace and rhythm of what is happening and it is the «heart» of the picture and sets the movement. However, I did not have enough flowers in this picture. Perhaps more daring solutions could add extra vividness to what is happening.

Overall impression

Female perspective

The film undoubtedly contains strong scenes that show how harmful drugs are to physical and mental health. Accordingly, the message is quite simple and clear: if there were no heroin and amphetamine heroes in life, everything would be perfect. The disadvantage of this picture is the certainty that none of the heroes will be able to live a normal life and cope with their addiction which has developed since the very first scenes. Therefore, the whole film turns into waiting for the fatal outcome, which will be a disaster for all characters. «Requiem for a Dream», in my opinion, lacked the unpredictability of the plot that Uli Edel was able to create in the film «Christiane F ».

Harry and Marion, frame from the film (source: KinoPoisk)

Men’s View

I did not have enough beautiful, bright, carefree scenes «in summer», I would like more colors. Moreover, the heroes are so often «high»!
Another factor that slightly embarrassed me was the lack of noticeable contrast in the scenes starting from autumn.
I definitely liked the plot structure based on the extremes. If you need a «dope», it is impossible to get it in more than eight million city (the film is set in one of the districts of New York – Brooklyn). Therefore, the heroes go in search not just in a neighboring city or state, but in Florida, the distance to which is more than 8500 km! However, to me, it gives additional dynamics, and in combination with the installation looks organic.

Social significance 

Female perspective

«Requiem for a Dream» is among the 250 best movies. The movie by Aronofsky is considered cult because it shows the drug addiction of the present. «Requiem for a Dream» does not romanticize drugs, it shows how substances break destinies. There is a tendency for all movies or series that mention drug addiction to become quite popular (e.g., TV series «Euphoria», «Eagles», «Elite» and «13 Reasons why»). Is it necessary to show the topic of drug use in movies? Why not? But only as long as the mentioning does not turn into the propaganda of such a lifestyle. By the way, Russian psychologists have noticed that «Requiem for a Dream» has psychotherapeutic properties and allows to fight harmful habits.

Ellen Burstyn on filming (source: Tvkinoradio)

Men’s view

I do not think it is correct to compare this picture with work like «Euphoria», too different contexts. In «Requiem for a Dream», drugs are used as one of the connecting elements of all heroes. The «dope» increases rapidly, time runs faster, and the situation in which the heroes drive themselves becomes increasingly desperate.
Drug propaganda is a bad thing. However, take, for example, the cult movie «Dazed and Confused», which is famous in the USA. Throughout the whole time the heroes «get high» and this is what makes it possible to recreate the atmosphere corresponding to the film’s idea. In this way the director helps the viewer to feel the epoch (the action takes place in the USA in the 70s). Aronofsky also uses drugs in the frame to make the viewer experience emotions. The film’s author tries to convey to us: «Live here and now, not in illusions. Act, be yourself and everything can work out».

«DAU»: reality show and documentary film

This autumn the project will resume showing films on the Internet-portal.

Reading time 5 minutes

Some materials of the film project became available at the «DAU» in spring. Ilya Khrzhanovsky planned to show unreleased films at international movie festivals in 2020-2021. However, the pandemic made its corrections and the director decided to publish the remaining films on the Internet.

Still from the film «DAU» by Ilya Khrzhanovsky (source: «Theatre»).

The «DAU» is a parallel spatial and temporal universe, allowing to return to the Soviet Union and explore the complex relationship of Soviet man with the totalitarian regime of the USSR. Ilya Khrzhanovsky He has been creating the project for 14 years. «DAU» includes 14 films, 3 series and 700 hours of filmed timekeeping, which do not obey either chronological or single plot logic and cover about 40 years of life: from the late 1920s to 1968.

Director Ilya Khrzhanovsky, actresses Olga Shkabarnia and Natalia Berezhnaya (source: RIA).

The film project literally recreated life in the USSR. The shooting involved non-professional actors who played without a script and lived on the film set throughout the work. The main location of «DAU» is the Institute of Physical Problems. It was home to religious figures, artists and scientists. Including, even our famous contemporaries. For example, Nobel Prize winner physicist David Gross. Employees were paid in Soviet rubles. Party and trade union meetings were also held at the Institute, and the First Department was functioning.

None of the items from the XXI century, up to underwear, was allowed on the territory of the Institute. Ilya Khrzhanovsky in an interview with Kseniya Sobchak said that women during periods used gauze, and there were fines for those who used words and concepts not related to the time of the act.

Screen from the film «DAU. Natasha» (source: platform dau.com)

At some point, the film set turned into a psychedelic journey. With the help of special invitation, visitors could join the project, communicate with its residents, real artists, scientists, filmmakers, and feel the atmosphere of Soviet times. Among the episodic characters were Demyan Kudryavtsev, former director-general of «Kommersant» and «Vedomosti»; film director Alexander Shein, director of Prada store. Thus, the mansion on Piccadilly that embodied the Soviet institution and which is located in one of the most prestigious areas of London, gathered a heterogeneous mass of people – from Marina Abramovich to Roman Abramovich.

At the shooting of “DAU” (source: KinoPoisk )

Despite this widespread public interest, the project caused conflicting emotions. Thus, some critics refused to write reviews, motivating their decision by unwillingness to participate in the PR of a film that demonstrates rape, humiliation and sadism.

In Kharkov in the spring of 2020, a criminal case was opened against Khrzhanovsky. The Ukrainian Prosecutor’s Office accused the filmmakers of torturing children during filming and of propagating violence and cruelty.

In Russia, the project was treated with caution. Only six films were given rental IDs. The rest of the films were considered propaganda for pornography by the Ministry of Culture.