Saturday, 4 June 2011

Kira Muratova: Second Class Citizens - Второстепенные люди (2001)



Director:Kira Muratova
Writers:Sergei Chetvertkov, Kira Muratova
Stars:Natalya Buzko, Sergei Chetvertkov, Nikolai Sadnev

Awards:
2 wins



Muratova’s film explores the theme of death: in the first scene of the film, we see a doctor attending to a critically ill patient. The reaction of the dying man’s wife sets the tone for Muratova’s approach to text, which functions as a musical accompaniment rather than a conveyor of meaning. The wife reads to the doctor the definition of the terms ‘coma’ and ‘agony’ (his diagnosis) from an encyclopedia. The doctor hardly needs a reminder of the meaning of medical terms, nor does the wife need to know the exact differences between the terms: her response elicits the meaninglessness of text when it comes to issues like death.

Second Class Citizens

The doctor is then called by another women, Vera: here, he encounters a man (whom she accuses of beating her), who falls onto the floor as he prepares to beat up the ‘intruder’, and lies there motionless. Vera and the doctor try to dispose of the body, and eventually pack it into a suitcase, which Vera deposits at the left luggage counter of the local railway stations after a series of farcical situations. In the meantime, the twin brother of the dead man drives his boss (a gangster) through the countryside, and refuses to kill the militiaman who is tied up in the boot of the car. When the boot is opened, the policeman has died. The real death of a character whose biography has been given in the previous conversation passes almost as a marginal note. In the meantime, the case with the dead body is retrieved from the luggage hold at the railway station, and when opened, the man is found to be still alive. Throughout the entire film the spectator follows the wrong character: the man about whom we know absolutely nothing other than that he is violent toward Vera, rather than the policeman, who actually dies. Muratova misleads the spectator, making a pertinent comment on the futile concept of death.

Reviewed by Birgit Beumers in KinoKultura



Muratova's latest film explores the theme of death: in the first scene of the film, we see a doctor attending to a critically ill patient. The reaction of the dying man's wife sets the tone for Muratova's approach to text, which functions as a musical accompaniment rather than a conveyor of meaning. The wife reads to the doctor the definition of the terms 'coma' and 'agony' (his diagnosis) from an encyclopaedia. The doctor hardly needs a reminder of the meaning of medical terms, nor does the wife need to know the exact differences between the terms: her response elicits the meaninglessness of text when it comes to issues like death.

The doctor is then called by another women, Vera: here, he encounters a man (whom she accuses of beating her), who falls onto the floor as he prepares to beat up the 'intruder', and lies there motionless. Vera and the doctor try to dispose of the body, and eventually pack it into a suitcase, which Vera deposits at the left luggage counter of the local railway stations after a series of farcical situations. In the meantime, the twin brother of the dead man drives his boss (a gangster) through the countryside, and refuses to kill the militiaman who is tied up in the boot of the car. When the boot is opened, the policeman has died. The real death of a character whose biography has been given in the previous conversation passes almost as a marginal note. In the meantime, the case with the dead body is retrieved from the luggage hold at the railway station, and when opened, the man is found to be still alive. Throughout the entire film the spectator follows the wrong character: the man about whom we know absolutely nothing other than that he is violent toward Vera, rather than the policeman, who actually dies. Muratova misleads the spectator, making a pertinent comment on the futile concept of death. ...

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