There was a city

Assa (1987), directed by Sergei Soloviev, was as much a cult film of the Soviet change of regime as Hair was of an earlier change in the West. The theme songs of the movie – just like Aquarius in Hair – all became “anthems” of the change, but mainly the two that I presented some fifteen years ago here on the blog with the title There is a city: Перемен! – “Change!” and Город золотой – “The Golden City”

To the west of the Soviet Union, Assa remained largely unknown, and along with, its theme songs, too. But they are still popular in the Russian language area. This is attested by the fact that the Udmurt women’s choir Buranovskie Babushki won third place in the Russian pre-selection of Eurovision 2010 with the Udmurt version of The Golden City, along with the Udmurt version of Yesterday by Beatles, as I reported at that time. And that this is still the case, I found new evidence in the past few days.

An American spy story is running on Netflix under the title In From the Cold. In this, Russian spies trained in the 90s by KGB successor organizations, but inactive for twenty years, are reactivated – in Madrid. The two spies, who now work for opposite sides – Americans vs. Spanish far-right and ultimately Russians – had had a romantic relationship at the time. In one of the film’s key scenes, before the final showdown, this is recalled at a dinner, with none other than The Golden City as background music.

In fact, this music is not so background. It emerges as an independent actor. The figures reflect on it, telling that it was the song of an era that was beautiful but irretrievably gone.

The Russian references of the film are by the way just as stereotypical as in most other American movies. They present the image that the average American viewer thinks to know and wants to see to confirm their knowledge: the puppet figures of the vampire-like Russian KGB officer, the typically bisexual Russian woman who promotes her career with her body, the unscrupulous Russian mobster, the Russian scientist wanted for death back home because of his wonderful invention. This audience did not see Assa, and does not know what The Golden City means. Who is, then, this song for? Perhaps the movie’s Russian expert – because there had to be one, at least to recall the material world of Moscow in the 1990s – speaks out here with this song of his youth, like a message in a bottle thrown into the emptiness, without any hope of understanding, rather only to himself?

No hay comentarios: