was watching the russian film ‘туман’ (mist) some days ago. the plot is simple – a unit of recruits of the modern russian army takes a shortcut through a misty swamp to appear in 1942 and face the assault of germans on russia. most of the troops are killed in fighting, and the remnant returns in the mist and their own time, to confess that they now understand what war and patriotism are all about.
three things i thought:
first. this is a film specifically designed with the blinking-thinking generation in mind. why else it would feature so much repetition of totally identical material?
second. this is a film meant for people who feel and do not think. the repetitive scenes of violent death and patriotic decision leave nothing but boredom to the rational mind.
third. this is a film about construction of reality in spite of the naked facts. it is also a film about construction of faith and the necessity of integration of thoughts and feelings.
and then i thought, this film was symptomatic. of re-construction of the great russian warrior image (which has faded in the light of present-day political events, and general disregard for the army as an organisational structure)
the narrative structure is old as the hills (as they say) – and still as impressive as the said hills, the circular composition leading to a new understanding of the old truths, ancient oppositions (us – them, life-death etc.). and yet it brings something new to the field: a tripolarity (us – them – those indifferent, germans – partisans – modern soldiers, life – death – betrayal, sun – night – mist) consistent with the tripolarities of the present day culture. indecision and lack of clarity characterise the choices of practically all the main characters. clarity of choice and decision are followed by death.
the film was didactic in places. in places it was funny and beautiful. a number of episodes remain in acutely in memory: the attempts of the recruits to understand what is happening to them in the forest after they have been transferred in time – as a great example of the inability of the humans to believe in the obvious. the discussion of statuses in the stranded group and attempts to find a place in the new world – self explanatory. the war veterans passing the parade of the young soldiers – and the faces of the fallen comrades walking among the veterans – a very interesting representation visually, and a fitting, howbeit over-emotional summary of the time-travel experience.
(and yes. the germans were represented really poorly. really, really poorly. about as terribly poorly as the english represented russians in the 1970s, and this is not a compliment.)
on the whole the film makes one think. of the feeling generation. of the generation of feeling. and how remote my past is. abysmally remote.