19 December 2005 | BlueGreen
One of the best documentaries I've ever seen...
... and I've seen TONS of them. I love the genre. It's been more than ten years since I last saw this one, but it remains unforgettable.
I had to browse the web to find the title of the documentary; and one of the pages (at least one) called it "hilarious".
Either I don't know what "hilarious" means, or the writer of that review doesn't know what it means - or we just have a very different sense of humour.
There are many many epithets that come to mind remembering that documentary, but "hilarious" is not one of them. I would call it a frank, poignant display of an (unwittingly) cynical world.
Dimitri, the writer's great-grandson, is a (or was) a tram (streetcar) driver; a typical, rather sad "ordinary" man, caught in the rut of a seemingly perspectiveless life in post-USSR Russia.
And then, somebody conceived the idea of making him tour some of the capitals of Western Europe, his only "ticket" being his surname. (He did try to sell - on a stand in a theatre lobby - some of his own work, drawing of scenes from his ancestor's books, but with little luck.)
Of course people were only interested in him because of his surname. Fair enough. Though I imagine he could have something to say about life - life in Russia in 1991/92, not 150 years ago - had anyone asked him. But nobody asked him. In fact, he found it difficult to even find a place where to rest his head when night fell. After the initial interest in him wore off, he was dropped like a hot potato.
And the one palpable benefit he did manage to get out of this particular journey turned sour - it almost cost him his life.
By all means, see this documentary. But if you are looking for comic relief, look elsewhere.