2008 [RUSSIAN]

Drama / Musical / Romance

IMDb Rating 7.1 10 4881

musical politics

Plot summary

Uploaded by: FREEMAN
August 13, 2022 at 11:15 PM

Top cast

1.22 GB
Russian 2.0
23.976 fps
2 hr 16 min
P/S ...

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by lee_eisenberg 10 / 10

generation gap of the Cold War

To the numerous movies about generation gaps we can now add Valeriy Todorovsky's "Stilyagi" ("Hipsters" in English). It focuses on an assortment of youths in 1950s Moscow who are really into western music and fashion, to the disfavor of Soviet authorities. I particularly liked the scene where Fred plays Mels the boogie woogie song: it's gotta be the first time that anyone's ever heard an old-style rock 'n' roll song entirely in Russian.

The movie emphasizes that the authorities considered jazz a form of western imperialism. While I was in grad school, some students from Russia co-rented a house with me and the other US students. One of them noted that this was in fact the case, but that the authorities still allowed Frank Sinatra's music. That sounds counter-intuitive to me, but who knows what the reasoning was. The point is that ever since popular culture arose, the younger generation has gotten into the new stuff while the older generation turns its nose at it. There was one scene in "Hipsters" that reminded me of the scene in "A Hard Day's Night" where the Beatles get into an argument with a man on a train and Ringo* has a snarky comment.

Anyway, really fun movie. And remember, he doesn't need an American wife!

*Today is in fact Ringo's birthday.

Reviewed by evgueny 10 / 10

Enjoyable and with insight into postwar Russian history

"Stilyagi" is one of the best Russian movies I have seen in the past 10 years. The director and actors did wonderful job. The movie is both romantic and fun, and at the same time it gives insight about a curious historical phenomenon.

The World War II not only devastated Russia, but also exposed the otherwise isolated country to Western culture through captured movies, vinyl LPs, art, fashion clothes, and other spoils of war. This was particularly valuable for people who wanted to express their difference from others. They started to copy perceived "American" lifestyle, especially the clothes, using films like "Sun Valley Serenade" and the covers of jazz LPs as primary references. Not surprisingly, the result was an outlook more typical for Western show business entertainers than for mainstream design. Although the group believed that their attire was the true definition of style, the rest of Soviet population labeled them "stilyagi" to show their disapproval. In the totalitarian regime "admiration for the West" was a felony, however, after Stalin's death state security was reluctant to take action and stilyagi were facing relatively modest retaliation, mostly from local Komsomol (Communist Party youth wing) activists.

Since the movie is about liberty and has elements of a modern musical, I feel like comparing it with "Across the Universe" (2007). In this comparison, "Stilyagi" is more dynamic and psychological, while actors' voices are just as good. The main duo of Anton Shagin and Oksana Akinshina, who are playing a Komsomol activist Mels in love with a female stilyagi member Polza, are delivering excellent performance, which is especially striking given their young ages. (It is ironic that Mels is an acronym for "Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin," and "Polza" in translation from Russian means "use.") A scene of a Komsomol meeting is truly memorable and in my view is a masterpiece. The music is mostly modern Russian pop and alternative rock, with lyrics adapted to the plot. The ending, which makes a connection between liberty ideals of stilyagi and modern youth, sounds like a bold statement in the nation that is still re-thinking its past.

Reviewed by johno-21 10 / 10

Totalitarian Rock

I saw this last month at the 2010 Palm Springs International Film Festival and of the 23 films I saw there this year I would put this at the top. The time is post Stalinist era Moscow 1955 and Mels (Anton Shagin) is a typical 20 year old member of the local youth Communist party where his girlfriend Katya (Eugeniya Brik) is one of the youth leaders. Co-existing in the gray cold war world of the USSR are the Stilyagi, an underground youth movement of no-conformists who wear outrageous bright colored black market western fashions and wear high pompadours and listen to underground subversive jazz and rockabilly music. Mels is attracted to the Hipsters and in particular the lovely Polza (Oksana Akinshina) who has westernized her name to Polly. Mels adopts their lifestyle and westernizes his name to Mel. He is eventually accepted as a Hipster by Polly and her friends Betsi (Ekterina Vilkova), Bob (Igor Voynarovsky) and their leader Fred (Maksim Matveev) a dashing young son of a wealthy diplomat. The scene for all the Hipster action is out in the open in an uptown district called 'Broadway' where the Pompadour Club is located and where underground records, clothing and musical instruments can be bought in dark alleys and safe houses. Directed by Valery Todorovsky and adapted for the screen by Yuri Korotkov, the author of the novel 'Boogie Bones' about the hipsters and bootleg western recordings this film blends drama with sly comedy and wraps them around a bright colorful musical that is indeed a cinematic event. Fantastic music score from Konstantin Meladze that is reminiscent of the music of the group Manhattan Transfer with wonderful clothing costumed by Aleksandr Osipov that are reminiscent of the Stray Cats and West Side Story this is a lavish production with a beautiful production design by Vladimir Gudilin and richly photographed by Roman Vasyanov. Lots of veteran Russian actors in supporting roles like Sergey Garmash, Oleg Yankovskiy, Alexsey Gorbunov, Irina Rosanova and Leonid Yarmolnik. A very original film chronicling a movement that would lead the way to the acceptance of jazz and rock and roll and future movements like hippies, punks and hip hop rappers. These counter-culture Hipsters of yesterday are the ultimate round pegs in a square world. I would hope this gets distribution in American art house theaters. The story itself isn't all that compelling but I don't think it's meant to be. It's more of a visual and auditory experience and it's a cinematic event. I would highly recommend it and give it a 10 out of 10.

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