Saturday, August 20, 2016


Found on the Web: Important film on Russian culture at, focusing on writer Vasilyi Aksenov (Aksyonov, depending on how you wish to transliterate the Russian alphabet into English) and 1960s Russian "counter-culture."

image from

Below a Facebook comment by Mark Teeter (thank you Mark for your ok in posting your Facebook comment on this blog).

Mark H. Teeter VA was one of the great Russian writers of the last half-century, of course, as well as an iconic figure in multiple realms – prose, film, jazz, lifestyle – for 3 generations of his countrymen. More to the pt. here, he was the living antithesis of vanilla: nothing he did, said or wrote was plain old/plain old, which is why this multi-format documentary (by RTR, 2009) is altogether fitting and proper.

Those who haven't seen it will be surprised at both how inclusive and effectively zeitgeist-catching it is: w/in a mere 49 min. you get the complex, fascinating and, yes, endearing story of VA’s Soviet-American-European-Russian odyssey laid out quite effectively, using well-chosen archival footage, interviews w/ the principal and a host of friends (incl. Akhmadullina, Tabakov, Naiman, Popov and others) in support of a narrative that covers ground quickly and remarkably dispassionately, in effect letting the story of this unique storyteller tell itself. (One wishes there were more voices from the US chapter here – but that’s probably worth a separate episode.)

For my rubles, one of the most poignant observations comes from Tabakov, the great comic actor and director, who notes that “Whenever VP looked at me he would laugh – which made me feel great.” Indeed, one of the salient things about Aksyonov was that even when he was talking about something sad, disturbing or otherwise downbeat, you always sensed that he was only a sentence or two away from saying something wryly amusing – or simply making a joke. It’s called жизнерадостность, and he really had it. It made everybody feel great. It still does.

LikeReply1 hrEdited
John Brown Mark, as always, thank you for your brilliant observations. I am re-watching the film right now, without - may I confess - a certain amount of Soviet-era nostalgia (I was in the USSR as a grad student in the mid-70s) where "personal relationships" --despite (because of?) Soviet bureaucratic political oppression (often "silent"), counted far more (dare I say, ironically?) -- than in the USA today. Theme for a modern-day Dostoevsky novel, not necessarily framed in a USA/USSR context? Allow me to provide you with an updated link to an era with which we USA baby boomers are both familiar with:

LikeReply141 minsEdited

No comments: