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Demon of Suburbia or Soviet Society in a Mirror of "Magicians"

Demon of Suburbia or Soviet Society in a Mirror of "Magicians"
Fedoseev Ilya 07.10.2008

In most cases the work of art (we also mean here literature) belongs to one concrete epoch, being its procreation. As, for example, Fonvizin's "Nedorosl" could not be written either in Russia of the seventeenth century, or in Russia of the nineteenth century. It is the Russian classicism, Ekaterina's century.

But there are also the works of art - there are few of them - created on a joint of epochs and embodying transition from old to new. Such as Shakespearian "Hamlet" in which is easy to track collapse of ideals of the Renaissance and celebration of a gloomy, irrational baroque. Such works are especially interesting by the fact that they show crisis - coming of new time to change of an old one.

It's possible to relate also Konstantin Bromberg's film "Magicians" shot in 1982. The Soviet Union is still strong politically and economically but both in reality and is especially in "Magicians" that demon which would soon gobble up the demon of suburbia - is already seen.

To understand completely this film is necessary to correlate it with that story which it is bound to - "Monday Begins on Saturday" by Brothers Strugatsky. "Magicians", certainly, cannot be called a screen version of "Monday" in full meaning of the word but the world in the film is obviously the same and some characters were taken from the book - for example, Каmnoedov becoming in "Magicians" Каmnoedov, or the hero of Valery Zolotuhin who changed surname and patronymic but remained Kivrin.

Meanwhile - what is "Monday" written in 1965? It's the Soviet utopia, the story (cheerful and amusing but not less serious at the same time) about people of the communistic future who has overcome capitalist attitude to work. Soviet "real socialism" reigns in the country but heroes of Strugatsky have already changed for themselves work in such a manner that it already is not work in present understanding of a word. It - their internal need, meaning of life. In "Monday" the border between actually work and creativity is erased that cannot happen in reality before appearance of a classless communistic society in any way. More precisely it can but only for separate lucky persons from the propertied classes. Charles Orleansky, being duke, lived no on fees and nothing forced him to write verses. Nothing - except for the fact that the poet should write verses.

Such are heroes of "Monday" - they work not to provide livelihood and no invisible economic supervisor stand with invisible плёткой behind them. They work only because they love what they are doing, it is the most interesting to them. Monday therefore begins on Saturday that such people don't need Sunday. Entertainment for them is more boring than work - not because they are boring themselves, simply work is much more interesting. Episode in which Korneyev sends on a New Year's party his double - magic image created with a help of magic ("A good double, branchy ... A fool. Tells funny stories, points, dances as an ox ... "). Really, what is the reason to waste time on parties if it is possible to get engaged in finding out an answer of extremely interesting scientific problem?

If the characters of "Monday", according to the expression of Soviet critic Irina Vasjuchenko, "rejected Sunday", for the characters of "Magicians" the main thing in life is - Sunday which is entered by tiresome and uninteresting breaks for work. These people are - petty bourgeoises engaged in fine fancies. Whom will Alena marry? Whom will Kivrin marry? These questions become the most important. Well, the fact that magicians are the main characters - it's done for making film soup, so that to attract the spectator.

All action of the film is connected with Scientific Universal Institute of Unusual Services. But what does this institute makes? It seems as if something magic, as there are "magicians" but what particularly? It is absolutely unimportant for the creators of film, love petty intrigues between employees of the institute interest them more. And consequently its director Kira Shemahanskaja remorselessly applies magic to settle own love - marriage problems.

Summing up, I shall tell that "Magicians" - artfully made out capitulation of humanistic communistic idea before a viscous bog of suburbia into to which most of the country turned by that time. Petty bourgeois is in fact not a person who cares of his benefit but a person who cares only of own benefit. "Petty bourgeois" is an antonym to a word "citizen". Such person is indifferent to everything that is outside of his extremely narrow world. By then when "Magicians" was shot, petty bourgeois triumphed over the USSR finally. It's especially indicative that the script for the film was written by Strygatsky who for those 17 years passed with the Soviet society all its evolution - or, more precisely, its degradation. In this film the communist (in the wide meaning of the word) Alexander Privalov laid down arm before inhabitant Ivan Pukhov - Abdulov's hero. In the world of the beginning of 80s Privalov has nothing to oppose Pukhov.
It is necessary to pay attention that the time of a decline of the USSR, when the film was shot, was as well the time of a singer Alla Pugachyova popular till now. 70s and 80s years are without exaggeration her epoch. Pugachyova does not appear and does not sing in the film but her spirit is transferred fully there.

From the time of its appearance culture spoke to a person: "Awoke, you are not doing yourself justice! Whether you are really born to vegetate in your pity petty-bourgeois cosiness?" Genius (I use this word without any irony) of Pugachyova is that she refused the principle, laying no claims to her listener - inhabitant. On the contrary, she told him in her songs: "Yes, you are born precisely for it. Eat from the trough and grunt from satisfaction near to it - that is life". Film "Magicians" is done in that very strain.

For the sake of justice it is necessary to note that suburbia in late-Societ society had deep roots. Film as it was already marked was shot in the beginning of 80-s, whereas one decade before it became clear that nomenclature wouldn't ever and anybody give its power. So, the Soviet citizen has nothing eslse to do but to give public affairs to those who "knows better" and to limit his interests to a private life. That is to become a petty bourgeois from a citizen. Social being, as it's known, defines public consciousness. In result already in 1980s years Soviet society became petty-bourgeois society, it predetermined the year 1991 (and subsequently 1993). If population of the country - petty bourgeoises - entirely sank into the mire of arrangements of private affairs, authority has full opportunity to make everything it wishes. There is nobody to stop it or to restrict.

It's properly to draw a conclusion at the end of the article. But this time there will be no conclusions. There will be only a reminder on the facts: in 1917 the authority in Russia was taken by people intended to make all people masters of their destiny, in the middle of 1960s years that tendency was still alive and already one and a half decade after it narrow-mindedness finally triumphed.

I will not draw any conclusions. Citizens will do it by themselves and I am not going to dictate something to petty bourgeoises.

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