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PART PRACTICAL DIRECTION. Film "DMB 91", Film "I was going home"

Film "DMB 91"


It took us one year to make the film. The shooting time was a bit more than three months. How come I got the idea to film a sergeant? From the very beginning there was an idea about the evolution of a person that undergoes several stages of integration into the army organism. We had a script but it hadn't much in common with what we got as a result as we didn't know what would be permitted to shoot in the army.

 At first we also had a version of an interview film. If you remember there was at one time a sensational story of a private Akalauskus and the film "The brick flag" was based on it. About 14 thousand letters has come to the "Komsomolskaya pravda" after this article was published. I have read about 3 thousand of the letters. It was a kind of public opinion probe taking. There was also a lot of interesting facts in these letters. As an example I can cite one of the letters wrote by a woman: "I cannot understand the origin of such cruelty; bastards like these should be drenched in gasoline and burned". And the woman has no short-circuit in her brain, that's typical mass mentality. But besides emotional reaction, mostly by soldiers' relatives we also had many facts. I got a possibility to sum up the army experience: one had it like this, the other- slightly different, there were different arms of the service and different serving time; as a result we had an interesting sociological outline. We spend half a year (the shooting was postponed) to work up the material, we've taken about one hundred interviews from the persons who suffered from the army or felt there okay. Such was the beginning, the forming of the plot. That was necessary to show a man on the stage of freshmen and his transformation from a caterpillar to a butterfly. A certain kind of initiation should have taken place. That also influenced a great deal on the selection of the teaching center. Usually the first year of the service brings a soldier all the lumps and on the second year there are privileges that grow and grow. In the last six months when he becomes an old-timer the life is fine and a lot of people recall it with great pleasure. In a teaching center due to specific features this process is condensed and if somebody is left in the teaching center in the rank of sergeant he becomes an old-timer in half a year. Being a junior sergeant he has at his disposal five or eight persons and takes his time. We just had to choose an object. We selected three persons and from the very beginning observed them. You see one of them in the episode "down-up". Though we concentrated on the other character we were sorry to throw away such an episode so we have some misalignment of characters. Two of the sergeants we chose stayed in the teaching center and the third one was sent to the army. I went to him but that was the other life, not like in the teaching center, with no laws and restrictions, but that is another story.

Concerning the contrast between color and black and white- it's got some meaning but to some extent that deals with a technical problem because we had no Kodak film and it is quite impossible to shoot on our awful color film. Though I think that if the film was colored it would have added something. The texture and aesthetics of barracks deserve color film- to reproduce it with the maximal truth.

When I was in the army I served as a private in the railway troops. Frankly speaking I'd better not get back to the experience like that. But I think I could make a film about it.

It seems to me that the shooting method that we call the long observation considerably determines the subjects and author's attitude. It looks like purely procedural moments: the way you installed a camera, how long you stay behind it, what you are doing- all this begins to influence the substance of the film. In the process of shooting I tried to formulate briefly- in one phrase- my emotional attitude to the persons that were in front of me, to what was happening. That is I had to define: "I hate this" or "I expose that"... That dictates the mode of camera action and the methods of your work. I defined it as "I'm sorry about them all" and when I came to that definition I was proud and I thought that I had found what I had been looking for. Then I changed my position and came to the conclusion that this is not the revelation- I just came to the standard that is typical for such situation. The objects of these kind of films-observations since Flaherty time are primitive tribes. When we talk about other branches they are usually marginal- barracks, tramps, bottom of society etc. That is a kind of reservation, something falling out from normal society. Though it is geographically or socially exotic it is still a reservation; and there comes an outsider with a camera, an observer. I would define this kind of observation as a cultural colonialism. That causes the position typical for Russian intellectuals of the second half of the 19th century. They felt sympathy for those people, they were touched and made purposive statements... Leo Tolstoy writes about a laundry woman who died because she was not admitted to a guest house where she owed to grivnas- insignificant sum for a rich landlord or even an intellectual at that time. Tolstoy appeals to sentimentality, sympathy for the depraved and affection. After the revolution, when social situation has changed the intellectual was put on a level with laundry woman and affection disappeared. We tried to be exterritorial: we lived in the same barracks and slept there; the operator and I even put on military uniform. But still we were observers. We were superhonoured old-timers and had the best possible relations with everybody- we shared our food with draftees and were friends with sergeants who punched them, we also had to maintain good relations with the officers. We were outsiders in that social situation as every person saying: "My life there was of a special kind"... Our life was quite different from that of soldiers and sergeants. That social position gave birth to a sentimental feeling "I'm sorry about them all". Yes, I'm sorry them all, but it is necessary to understand the origin of this feeling and its connection with your position of an observer in that society- that is one of the problems inevitably arising in the genre of observation. You can use this method working with the other material but I hardly imagine the shooting group in a small modern flat filming the life of a cultured family day after day. We come to such family, take an interview and leave. These are our normal relations with people of our circle. They are constructed in accordance with a definite social model. It is quite different when we get to a village with other type of social relations and where we can shoot "The Belovs". In this process there is everything that I call "corkscrew rule". I don't know what it means in physics, but in film making it means that the longer you shoot a film the more shit pumps out and it practically doesn't matter what material you work with. The more time you spend on location, the more correct estimation of the situation you get, but you can't shoot everything, there is a filtration and that is inevitable. We can't shoot such situation among the people of our circle owing to some conventions, owing to our type of culture and civilization. We inevitably transfer it to some reservations, to some marginal social layers. Here lies the narrowness of this type of cinema though it has considerable anthropological, sociological or other meanings.

In fact we had only one episode shot with a hidden camera before sending of the draftees to their regiments. An officer marched in front of the soldiers and "had his say". He saw the camera but he didn't know we were shooting, that's why it happened to be "the most veritable" part of the film. How the shooting influenced the behavior of our characters? First of all we can talk about the influence on sergeants. Because privates are not their own masters, that means the problem arises in connection with sergeants. So he sees we have a camera. The situation is he should punch a private. If he doesn't do it he demonstrates his lack of confidence. There is some typical situation that repeats again and again and reproduces the same reactions. Camera restrains. Usually he would give a couple of kicks and move on. In the episode "down-up, down-up" he made a performance without beating due to the presence of the camera. Though this performance is also possible, that's not original, that's typology, the situation that repeats all the time. They also got a feeling: "Shoot what you like, you'll never put it in the film". That's why a senior sergeant told during the inspection for dysentery: "Come here, you'll see a performance". It is a kind of army joke. Nobody thought that would become the part of the film. We never disillusioned them of it. We didn't deceive them though sometimes we pulled their leg. That's why I say that our intentions were not pure.

What was not included in the film? First, we had some obligations for the guys we filmed. We could not let them down. Frankly speaking, they had some troubles when the film was edited, but we calculated everything and they got off with nothing more than a fright. There were involved military solidarity and honor of uniform. We were declared liars, because in the army everything's okay. Also we could not shoot everything. We saw many things because they got used to us. You may be shy a day or two, then normal life begins. We made shooting in the teaching center, the most prosperous part of the army, there is maintained some order. Soldiers wake up in time, don't beat lieutenants, there are no mass fights between national groups. That's what all the rest of the army should tend to be. But still we made watercolors though we could paint an oil picture. We had opportunities to do it. We told nothing about drugs. We told nothing about stealths- sergeants always steal something. There were several escapes when we were there. Whatever time you come- they always wake up the whole company and go looking for the fugitives. There also has been a murder. Some local army racket. There is anything. But we didn't try to show the horrors, we've only taken the main things to show the basic social situation in the army, the changes happening with a person coming to the army. Of course many things were left outside the film.

Film "I was going home" by L.Ulanova

XXIX. Valery Marochi, the critic:

We are discussing a serious problem to what degree the author might be a personage and to what degree a personage, who is being shot, becomes a co-author. To what degree it is justified that the character might be a much stronger instance in the film than the author. And is the appearance of the author and turning him into the personage as in the film "I was going home" quite true? What do you think about it?

A.Anchugov, the script-writer:

I should say, that our heroine Sapelkina is my co-author of the script. We divided the fee into two parts. I have been arguing with the producer of the film Luda Ulanova for a long time - she considered that it is not necessary to put the name of the heroine in the captions as the co-author of the script. But according to the accountant's documents everything was like this.

I always envied to Sergei Knyasev who shot "Our day. Stances", because he was brave enough to make himself the main character: it is his own history, his family and his parents. I also would like to do the same but I feel ashamed that's why I am obliged to look for some other people who will agree to become the heroes of the film. I think, the producers whom I like, shoot films about themselves.


And to what degree this film is a documentary?


Honestly speaking I don't like the definition of the "documentary". It seems to me that the documentary does not exist. S.Knyasev has thought of the definition "the real film", this definition seems closer, "the non-feature film" is also good. But the documentary film must be referred to publicism which today should be showed on TV.


And where do you refer "A man who harnessed Idea"? What is this: cinemapublicism..?


It is a cinema which is very sympathetic which cannot be called a documentary and at the same time it's not a feature film, it is a film made up by the author.


And in what part you consider it to be made up? That this hero<