The Vanished Empire

Jan 02 - Jan 07, 2010

(Karen Shakhnazarov, 2008, Russia, 105 min)

Seattle premiere 

In The Vanished Empire, Karen Shakhnazarov, a prolific and under-recognized Russian filmmaker with a surrealist touch, views the collapse of the Soviet Union as an inevitable conflation of the younger generation’s natural impulse to reject the past for the seductive power of popular culture that can seep through even the most rigidly patrolled borders. The movie doesn’t strain for symbolism, but you might view Sergey, wonderfully played by Alexander Lyapin, as the embodiment of a young generation of Russians recklessly barging into an unforeseeable future. He is the ringleader of a group of three close friends, including Kostya (Ivan Kupreyenko), the bass player in a local rock band and the earnest, geeky Stepan (Yegor Baranovsky), who share the usual excruciating post adolescent rites of passage.

"This wise, elegiac film embraces a view of history that is more far-reaching than the rise and fall of the Soviet Union. There is an extraordinary coda, set three decades later, in which two of the three friends (one of whom remains unseen) meet accidentally in an airport. Without saying much, they acknowledge all that was lost in those years of unimaginable change." —Stephen Holden, New York Times

"Evocative period details and persuasive performances lend a poignant sadness to Karen Shakhnazarov's familiar, but well-told, coming-of-age tale." —NY Daily News


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