City Zero

"You’ll never leave our town.”

Looking at films that explore Soviet society and culture in the 70s through 80s allows for interesting glimpses into reactions to and critiques of changes happening through communism, perestroika and glasnost. The third film in our current series was made in 1988 and explores reactions to glasnost and changes leading up to the breakdown of the USSR. It’s not really science fiction, but is an absurdist, fantastical mystery that feels very Lynchian. Join us – Pete Wright and Andy Nelson – as we finish our Soviet Science Fiction series with Karen Shakhnazarov’s 1988 film City Zero.

We look at the absurdity in this film and how it took some research for us to really grasp what the filmmakers were trying to say about society. We chat about a few specific scenes like the cake scene, the secretary scene, the museum scene, and the tree scene, and explore what Shakhnazarov and co-writer Aleksandr Borodyansky may have been wanting to say. We look at other absurdist elements that don’t really seem to be saying anything but allow for that dreamlike Lynchian vibe to spread. We discuss Leonid Filatov as our lead character and why he works so well. And we talk about the stillness of the shots and how the direction and cinematography play into the vibe of this story.

We had a lot of fun with this one, even though we determine it’s not really science fiction. Check it out – it’s available on YouTube – then tune in! The Next Reel – when the movie ends, our conversation begins!

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