- USSR •
Sep. 02, 2018
Nov. 30, 2018
The film that spoke to Soviets about vulnerability, masculinity paradox, empathy and multiculturalism. TED-Stars like Brene Brown and Esther Perel make me revisit it.
I often find myself on Youtube playing the final scene from the Soviet movie “Ne Goryui!” (Cheer Up!) (1969). In this episode an elderly doctor Levan invited an entire hood for the End of Life party. He can not recover after his daughter passes away during child birth. Her love life had put him in a difficult spot and he never came to terms with it. Overwhelmed and heartbroken he decided he wanted to live no more. Only one guest felt the despair of the elder and strove to fulfill his last wish.
This film has contributed to the emotional IQ of the scores of the Soviet people. It has certainly contributed to mine. Now that I am observing the gender dynamics in the United States, listen to speakers like Brene Brown talking about vulnerability and Esther Perel about replacing the term “toxic masculinity” with “masculinity paradox”, I feel beyond grateful for having the chance to see “Ne Goryui” (Cheer Up!) in my early teens, in the 1980s. This was such an important film to watch. It has helped me understand the complexity of masculinity, to connect with people on a deeper level and build meaningful relationship. I can not bring myself to watch the entire movie, the same way you are not likely to watch “La Vita e Bella” with Roberto Benigni again, but every other week I type the name of the “end of life party” episode in Russian into a Youtube search bar and get sucked into this candidly filmed scene.
I am primarily drawn to it for the traditional Georgian song, performed at the end. Actors sing in Georgian throughout the film, but they switch to Russian for all their dialogues. This language mix allowed millions of people across the USSR to fall in love with the small country of Georgia. A couples of lines turned memes and became part of the Soviet cultural landscape. Anyone majoring in Russian or Soviet studies would probably find this film very helpful to watch.
The Georgian born director Georgii Danelia shot “Ne Goryui!” after a novel “My Uncle Benjamin” (1842) by the French, Claudet Tillier. This time the story is set in the nineteenth century Georgia, but unlike its French predecessor, it has no happy ending. Danelia reinterpreted the original comic plot into a tragic comedy. The hearty laughs are interweaved with satire and sad reality like facing death..
The filming and editing style strips the characters of all their guard, placing raw human emotions at the center stage. And yet it is so subtle, it borderlines eventful. The old doctor does not jump off the cliff, stick a gun up against his palate or makes a potion for himself. He walks quietly into the dark room and disappears. This is not a James Bond kind of story. This is one of the numerous Soviet films that showed a man, who refused to bottle up his emotions and embraced the tears. What comes next is the special connection between humans on the deepest level that goes beyond education, vocations, degrees and pedigrees.
Sep. 02, 2018