Sunday, 20 March 2016
Andrei Malyukov: We are from the Future - Мы из будущего (2008)
Director: Andrei Malyukov
Cast: Danila Kozlovskii, Vladimir Iaglych, Andrei Terent’ev, Dmitri Volkostrelov, Daniil Strakhov, Ekaterina Klimova, Boris Gal’kin, Sergei Iushkevich, Sergei Makhovikov
As much as the poster promises a buddy time-travel movie, this is not science fiction, but a rite-of-passage teen war drama that revisions the war as something that the youth of today can respect. The time travel premise is a brash mix between fantasy and authenticity that is geared towards being enjoyed with the fresh eyes of an edgy digital edit and a dynamic modern soundtrack. The recent phalanx of films and television series of the Great Patriotic War have tended to be serious re-evaluations of the dark aspects of the past. We are from the Future takes a different road that, judging by the high box office receipts ($8,228,165), found favor with filmgoers earlier this year, placing it amongst the year's top hits.
This is an unabashed teen film with youthful, cynical, anti-authoritarian protagonists who know little about the Great Patriotic War other than how to make some coin from the sale of war trophies on the black market. The four characters—former student and alpha-male, Borman, skinhead Cherep (Skull), geeky gamer Chukha, and the rapper Spirt—are amateur archaeologists. Skull wants to find an Iron Cross or a Nazi dagger. He is motivated by ideology. The others are motivated by greed. They couldn't give a hoot about respecting the past. But after their mystical time travel experience the boys are confronted by the visceral realities of the war and are utterly transformed. The film successfully updates Russian's resistance to the German advances by thrusting four street-smart youths into the midst of battle and showing their teeth-chattering response to the escapade. From this point of view it makes the war authentic, modern and relevant for today's teens. It straddles the dialogic ground between a de-ideologized post-Soviet space and a new muscular patriotic sensibility.
Like other teen time travel films, We are from the Future enacts a rite of passage that literally ritualizes the journey back in time to mark the coming of age of four young men as they accept their transformed social standing. Coming-of-age movies are about exploring the world in which the characters grow up. When we meet the four protagonists, they are “smart-arse” gravediggers, historical cynics, disrespectful exploiters of the past. Their rite of passage moves from an amped-up gang fight to the real deal of being at war and is presented ceremonially and indeed mythologically bringing elements of mystical folklore into a modern initiation ceremony.
The film triumphantly unifies today's materialism with a robust, blingy masculinity and an appreciation of the toughness of the ancestors and how the symbols of yesteryear are relevant today, but in a way not envisioned by "classic" worthy war films. The film does this neo-Soviet ideological work methodically and genuinely. There is an adventurous passion to director Andrei Maliukov's mise-en-scène that updates the representation of WWII through pastiche and fantasy. Notwithstanding the bitter online commentary that pinpoints the major gaffes in the military details of the art department, this movie makes the War appear as something fresh and relevant.
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