At first glance, Egor Abramenko's directorial debut may just seem to be another alien slasher. Be that as it may, we discuss the historical context of Sputnik and how this helps to generate a far more unique cinematic experience. We also critique Abramenko's intentions of paving a new way for Russian sci-fi cinema. You can read an excerpt and listen to the full episode below.
Patrick: It's interesting how there are characters in this that are very critical of communist Russia and the Soviets.
Michi: Yeah, so that's something I wanted to discuss. This movie- one of the things I love about it is that it does a god job of showing you what communism was like. Even though you're not living a normal communist life in this movie, like you're not following a family living in Moscow. Rather it's out in the steppes of Kazakhstan where there's only three characters, and it does a reasonably good job at discussing that kind of thing. So, this movie is set in November 1983 and that's a point in time during the cold war that was actually quite heated (nice). There was a bit of a drop off, so about 5 years before that they had the Brezhnev era. He was kind of a nice guy, he didn't really care too much about communism, and people kind of realised then that maybe communism wasn't the right way to go. He started introducing more capitalist ideas into society like department stores etc. Even though there were problems with his reign, people started to understand what it was like to live in a more western, capitalist democracy.
Then this new guy came in after him called Andropov, and in 1983 when this movie is set, he would have been in charge. He was the complete opposite, wanting to go back to the hardcore ways again, and because over in the U.S. at the same time, Ronald Regan had provoked the Russians, the cold war ramped up again. The Soviets were already under shit because they had the Polish revolt several years before that, as well as being in the middle of the war against Afghanistan, so it was just an all around bad time for the Soviet Union, and as a result they were trying to bring the ways of communism from the 50's and 60's when it was more hardcore. But because of Brezhnev before Andropov, people knew what it was like to be western, and so they were disillusioned, and you can really see that in these characters.
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