13 February 2005 | dirksch-1
excellent, if you like freaks, Russian language and (movie) chairs
Ulrike Ottinger found another freak in world literature - Ostap Bender, the hero of the novel "The Twelve Chairs" by Ilja Ilf and Jevgeni Petrov, published in 1928, which is famous to almost any soviet or post-soviet literate person. This is not the first adaption of the novel - check up the IMDb for "12 Stulyev" or "The Twelve Chairs". The plot (for non-Russians, of course): A former aristocrat is told by his beloved mother-in-law on her death bed, that she hid jewelry of incredible value in one of a set of 12 chairs, which got seized by the Bolsheviks. He then dedicates his life to these chairs, not knowing that the mother-in-law confessed the secret as well to a priest, who also devotes his life and properties to the search of the furniture. The main hero of course is Bender, a person without any conscience and with lots of skills to manipulate anyone to whatever appears to be useful for the former. He tragically interferes with the chair-story. This deceiver, maybe representing the type of character flourishing in the NEP-period (20ies of the SU), is shown by Ottinger as a kind of clown-sorcerer, appalling and enchanting as many of the "biznesmeni" of contemporary Russia, which in fact prefer rather black than spotted suits. The hole thing takes place as a kind of road movie in modern Russia and Ukraine, which amazingly provide the perfect scenes for the rather grotesque story. It's a universe of people who didn't become accustomed to the new society, some of them full of illusions, others already disappointed. A not so brave new world still very much resembling the old one - soviet or czarist, as you like. So if you like films with dubious heroes, with senseless destruction of valuable goods (24! beautiful historic chairs) and with no concern about your time-budget (185'), you should try this one!