soviet sister

In 1976, Audre Lorde took a trip to Soviet Russia, invited by the Union of Soviet Writers. In her Sister Outsider collection of essays and speeches, is her “Notes from a Trip to Russia” in which she detailed this experience. She remarked on free hospitalization and medical care, free university and schooling.

She said it wasn’t perfect, and she didn’t understand Russia to be classless or egalitarian. But she did say that Russians received ‘universal bread’ — and that this allowed them as a society to tackle other problems.

Sherlock Holmes in Russia

For a country that the rest of the world completely overlooks when it comes to cinematography, Russia has contributed surprisingly quite a few adaptations to the Sherlock Holmes franchise, much to ACD’s dismay. Since you guise like lists with links and I’m very conveniently blogging about all kinds of Russian SH exclusively, I thought hey, why not make a comprehensive guide to Sherlock Holmes in Russia. 

Russians grasped the concept of the hot British detective back when the stories were still fresh and funky, so the hysteria had a pretty early start already. The every-man, the smartest boy in town, the Sasuke to 2010′s tumblr: Sherlock Golmes

  • As per the fantabulous tradition, Holmes in the early translations fell under the H=G train just like Garry Potter and sir Genry, but well, they recovered soon, although the early history still remembers this weird phenomenon of Sherlock Golmes (or Golmts) in pre-revolution Russia. 
  • Contains: pre-revolution grammar, Golmts, Vhatson 

Theater soon caught up with the obsession, which resulted in Boris Glagolin securing his place as the first Russian Holmes on stage

Which in return, gave birth to the first still existing content:

Sherlock Holmes stage adaptations

  • Badly translated by yours truly. 
  • You’d think they would just adapt the canon like normal people do, but jesus christ, in every story Holmes, that very same dude with no social life and couch as his best friend, keeps going all the way to freaking Russia to search for rich people’s missing jewelry. I am not joking in the slightest right now, the read will be wild. Interestingly enough, there is a strong sense of revolution already lingering in those plays, granted it’s 1906 onwards, if you follow me on this adaptational adventure you’ll see that Russians are really influenced by the mood of the country when creating new Holmes content. But it here already: some British detective suddenly involved in Russian drama of diamonds and freedom.
  • Contains: Holmes’ wife, MARIANI, explosions, first femlock, jewelry kinks, MOTHER RUSSIA

After this there was quite a long silence with lots of theater adaptations passing by without much notice. One of those highlights must be Vasily Lanovoy, THIS freaking man:

saying that yes he probably did play Holmes at some point, but he forgot when and how. Fuckin fantastic, Lanovoy, thnx for the input.     

This continued up to 1971 even, when a few plays were turned out to be so good they were honoured to get filmed for national television. This is how the earliest tv-adaptation has reached us, avocado millennials:

The Hound of the Baskervilles (1971)

  • No subtitles and never will be while I remain a proud man with standards. 
  • This play is interesting because it’s the forbidden content tumblr craves for: all three plays were put on a shelf after one actor who played Watson in the Hound escaped abroad, and were never shown since. Decades later the Hound was miraculously discovered intact, restored and made available once again. That’s the sole interesting thing about this adaptation. 
  • It is what you expect it to be: a two and a half hours tedious exactest motherfucking adaptation ever, you don’t even need subtitles for this, you only need to whip out your book, because every single freaking line is 100% according to text, but in Russian. It is what it is, what can I say, although it still has its own weird things like Frankland missing completely. 
  • Contains: Henry and Watson sharing a bed, Mortimer touching Holmes’ skull, 2h30min of peaceful sleep while it plays 

Everything went quiet until 1979 when things just decided to explode all at once, but I’ll start with what I at least think came first. In the span of the same year, Hound ‘71 got shelved, a Christmas Holmes musical came out, and as the final kick into the grave - that very Soviet Holmes series.

So, The Blue Carbuncle (1979) that we have translated recently.      

  • I think this is the best adaptation on this pitiful planet because no other Holmes movie can inhale weed into your eyes right through the screen just as hard as this vid can. It’s fantastic how little it cares about canon and everything holy about Sherlock Holmes in general. Moreover, it’s a freaking Christmas musical shot for a country that doesn’t celebrate Christmas. It’s truly a gift for the mankind and has the lowest rating among all Russian SH adaptations because after finishing it, your eyes are so cloudy with weed you’re very likely to miss that deserved 10/10 with your trembling hands. Also, sneaky Igor Dmitriev somehow managed to star both in this shite, and the unholy Soviet series simultaneously as a villain and Inspector Gregson respectively. I have two sides indeed. 

  • Contains: the least Holmes-looking Holmes you’ll ever see, off-key singing, the canon story with a twist, Shakespeare banter. 

And here comes the blissful times of what is considered the best adaptation produced in Russia: 

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson (1979 - 1986)

  • Subtitled poorly and uploaded in ever poorer quality by our beloved Lenfilm. Lenfilm: we hate the content we produce. 
  • This series is distinct by how very warm, healthy and snuggly it is, as they wanted to tell a story about friendship and better people. It is pretty close to canon, but granted it’s five movies in two parts mostly (as the majority of Soviet television adaptations went), they do combine, twist and turn things a bit. If you’re looking for faithful canon with no toxic sociopathic bs, lots of fun, heart-clutching and incredible music - that’s the series you will go to. This series is the sole GIANT Holmes thing in Russia and its influence is as big as ever, which sure has its ups and downs. 
  • If you want to continue your course along the *Russians influenced by their times* theme, do pay attention to how English people and their interactions are represented, and especially note the sudden shift in mood of the last two episodes that were made right when Perestroika hit. People having no idea what life beyond the curtain looked like making up a dignified fantasy vs confronting worrying change. It’s subtle, but it’s there, pretty interesting as well. 
  • Contains: lots of hugs, dead dogs, killer jams, Mycroft under a table, sir Henry and Watson getting smashed 

*it might be worth noting that the same director decided to re-release the series weirdly in 2000 as a show about ACD hating life, Holmes and everything around him. The show mixed heartwarming series with the new hate, was aired like twice in its lifetime and is more remembered for all the lawsuits more than anything. But I respect Alexey Petrenko way too much to keep quiet about it.

After that we suddenly dipped into animation, resulting in 

Sherlock Holmes and I (1986) short with Livanov as Holmes, subs provided. 

  • A quick nonsensical story about Holmes and his best friend dog Tom. Yes. Has pretty killer electronic music and surprisingly famous actors on voicing for something this tiny. 

  • Contains: a universe where Watson was never born, crocodile eating a banana, a dog having a mansion and Holmes still searching for pennies under his couch to afford a shitflat on 221Bitch Broke street. 

After this new times hit big time, resulting in one of the first femlocks in the world:

My Dearly Beloved Detective (1986)

  • Youtube blocked the youtube vid hard recently, so it’s resting on google docs, subs provided. 
  • I personally very love this movie as again it’s very healthy and non-toxic, very warm, all around the place, and yes, Holmes and Watson are women. Consider this movie the Soviet series’ little sister as it’s fully acknowledging Livanov, imitates its camera tricks and uses the same score granted the same composer is involved once again. Actually, that composer worked on all three adaptations, aka this movie, the series and the carbuncle. Wild stuff. 
  • The movie is obviously not that fantastic and is safely forgotten in Russia, but I love it dearly nonetheless, and love it even more for how healthy it shows relationships getting sorted.
  • Contains: best Lestrade ever, crossdressing, bubble games, reused locations. 

That was the last Soviet contribution as the next adaptation wouldn’t come out until 2005. Rest in pieces USSR, you were the golden age of Russian movies. 

The next two dip us back into animation once again and are technically Ukrainian, but anyways. It’s the 

Murder of Lord Waterbrook (2005) time, subs provided.

  • The short bases its characters on the Soviet series and slays them ruthlessly in the most hilarious fashion. Everyone is a fun idiot, everyone is a murder suspect, occasionally gay stomps in. Also, the short, save for the female roles, was voiced by one single guy. Tumblr will love the fact that this guy is the voice of Shrek in the Russian dub, so the cartoon was always in safe hands. 
  • Contains: the origin of the gloryhole gif, tasty steak, 360p

Flash forward to 2013 and the same guys made this cartoon into a mini-series that we have also translated: 

Sherlock Holmes and the Little Black Men (2013).  

  • Six episodes add up to about 40min of overall watch time and follow a story with lots of canon and Soviet series references, more cool artstyle, music and jokes. Such a pity it’s so grossly overlooked as the cartoon is great fun and was made with love. Also, Shrek is back. 
  • Contains: stupid Watson, cliffhangers, Totoro cameo 

And here comes the last contribution to date, the very awesome

Sherlock Holmes (2013) series, subtitled with love. 

  • This series, in my opinion, is a peak adaptation on topic *what if everything written in canon stories is bs*: it rewrites all the characters and the narrative from scratch, toys brilliantly with canon, references and easter eggs most of the previous Russian adaptations and a few Western ones, it’s incredibly well thought out and rewatching it at least once is a must because the plot is so ace and required double checking to understand it fully. It contains incredible acting, very consistent character traits, the bestest Watson to date and very entertaining stories. 
  • Also, concluding so far the *big Russian Mood™* arc, this series is blatantly, as confirmed by the director, about modern Russian social and political issues: bribery, racism, law meaning nothing, you name it. It’s a very good series and it deserves all the attention in the world. 

  • Contains: british trump, bimbom bramsel, loser holmes, basil rathbone 

And the last but not least: 

  • this hilarious parody on classic, RDJ and BBC Holmes made by the parody show that knew it all too much. Don’t consider yourself a true Holmes fan if you’ve never seen it.
  • Contains: Lady Gaga, special subtitled gaze, “deduction”.

So here it is, the more or less comprehensive guide on all Russian Sherlock Holmes stuff I know, or at least consider important enough to mention. If you want to do some good old piracy, I always have the page ready with all the subs and best torrents.    

It is indeed quite a few adaptations for a country so far away and wild, isn’t it. 

10

Челове́чка нарисова́л я (It Was I Who Drew the Little Man)

83 in x of animated feature film history
Release: 1960
Country: Soviet Union
Director: Valentina Brumberg, Zinaida Brumberg, Valentin Lalayants

“It Was I Who Drew the Little Man is an expanded remake of Fedya Zaytsev, a 1948 21-minute film by the same directors.

On the first of September, Fedya Zaytsev is the very first student to arrive at school. In his joy at realizing this, he draws a little man with an umbrella on the wall of his classroom with a piece of charcoal, realizing too late that this is against the rules. He lets his best friend take the blame. The little man Fedya drew comes to life and follows him home. He urges Fedya to confess. Instead, he is tempted away to the Kingdom of Lies, becoming the queen’s page. The queen releases soap bubbles into the air, telling her citizens that, if they catch one, their dreams will come true––a complete lie. Fedya disproves this lie, returns home, and confesses to his crime.”

(source)

It Was I Who Drew the Little Man is available on YouTube. 

4

Вавила грозный и тётка Арина (Terrible Vavila and Aunt Arina)

the works of: Olga KhodatayevaNikolai KhodataevBrumberg sisters
animated short film history
Release: 1928
Country: Soviet Union
Director: Olga Khodatayeva, Nikolai Khodataev

Rural women gather together on March 8th, International Women’s Day. The banner over the meeting hall reads, “Cooperation is a sure way to liberate women from the chains of cooking.” Arina’s husband attempts to stop her, but she and her friend outrun him. The women make it to their meeting as inanimate objects come to life and drive away the interfering men.

Valentina and Zinaida Brumberg served as animators on this film.

(source)

Terrible Vavila and Aunt Arina is available on YouTube.

4

Самоедский мальчик (Samoyed Boy)

the works of: Brumberg sisters, Olga Khodatayeva, Nikolai Khodataev
animated short film history
Release: 1928
Country: Soviet Union
Director: Valentina Brumberg, Zinaida Brumberg, Olga Khodatayeva, Nikolai Khodataev

A boy in the Arctic named Chu singlehandedly defeats a polar bear. However, the village’s greedy shaman steals the bear when Chu brings it home. For revenge, Chu ruins the shaman’s show, revealing his fakery. The shaman casts Chu out to sea, where he is picked up by a Soviet ship. He then lives and studies in Leningrad, but always thinks about the North.

(source)

Samoyed Boy is available on YouTube. 

Image: A typical Russian kitchen inside an apartment built during the early 1960s. (Courtesy of The Kitchen Sisters)

In 1953, the death of Joseph Stalin brought on a new era of Soviet life – one in which Russian families were able to move out of cramped, communal flats into their own private apartments, with their own private kitchens.

These Soviet kitchens became hotbeds of dissent and culture – especially when it came to forbidden literature. They were a place where people could read and exchange samizdat, or self-published books and documents.

Samizdat was the most important part of our literature life,” says Alexander Genis, a Russian writer and radio journalist. “And literature was the most important part of our life, period. Literature for us was like movies for Americans or music for young people.”

Genis and his family read The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn together in their kitchen:

“It’s a huge book, three volumes, and all our family sat at the kitchen. And we were afraid of our neighbor, but she was sleeping. And my father, my mother, my brother, me and my grandma — who was very old and had very little education — all sit at the table and read page, give page, the whole night. Maybe it was the best night of my life.”

That’s just some of what we learned from the Kitchen Sisters’ history of Soviet kitchens – you can find out more here.

flickr

Sisters, 1975