Friday, 1 November 2013
Nikolai Lebedev: Legend No. 17 - Легенда №17 (2013)
Director: Nikolay Lebedev
Stars: Danila Kozlovsky, Darya Ekamasova, Oleg Menshikov
Legend No. 17, a biopic about the famous Soviet hockey player Valerii Kharlamov, directed by Nikolai Lebedev, is one of the most prominent films released in Russia in 2013. Its April premiere was accompanied by an aggressive marketing campaign, especially on Channel Rossiia 1, the film’s co-producer. Even Russian Wikipedia jumped on the bandwagon by putting out a verbose and fawning entry. President Putin praised the film by saying it would be appreciated both by sports enthusiasts and by those who are proud of Russian history. However, a Russian blogger was closer to the truth when he said exactly the opposite: the film will be liked best by those who don’t know much about sport and know absolutely nothing about the Soviet Union. As someone who belongs firmly in the first demographic, but certainly not in the second, I rather liked the dynamic sporting scenes but frowned upon the vision of the USSR as a theme park for the new generation. Oh, spot that car! Tick. Spot the aging Brezhnev! Tick. Spot the drunken men taken away by the police—three times. Tick. The tour is over, you can go home now.
The Putinist attitude toward the Soviet Union is highly ambivalent—it tries to wed communist nostalgia for the glorious imperial past with a nominally anti-communist rhetoric. The results can be confusing. Putin admirer Nikita Mikhalkov, whose company produced the film and whose shadow hovers over it, should know it best: his Burnt by the Sun sequels satisfied neither die-hard Stalinists nor liberals and flopped miserably, even if they were fun to watch. This time, as “the general producer,” he just might get his money back; yet comments like “the film is a total lie, made to please no one in particular” are not a rarity either. The success consisted in luring 4 million people into the theaters, even though many of them may have had second thoughts later.
Reviewed by Sergey Dobrynin © 2013 in KinoKultura
Legend No.17, an $13 million biopic about Valery Kharlamov – one of the greatest ever Soviet ice-hockey players – focuses on the epic Summit Series with Canada in 1972, when Kharlamov’s so-called amateurs took on the much-feted giants of the National Hockey League (NHL) – and almost pulled off an amazing series victory. Timed to coincide with this year’s World Ice Hockey Championship, the film grossed $27 million within a month of its release on April 18, making it the domestic movie industry’s smash hit of the year.