The meaning of the film “Dau. Natasha by Ilya Khrzhanovsky

“Dow. Natasha is one of the most talked about and controversial films of the 2020 Berlin Film Festival. It is part of a huge cycle directed by Ilya Khrzhanovsky, who first showed his creation in Paris. All 700 hours of running time were scattered across different parts of the exhibition and shown to the audience in random order. Among these numerous films was also a part of “Dau. Natasha.

There is no script in the film, and non-professional actors are involved in all parts of the film. In a way, the entire Dow project is a social experiment in which representatives of different professions live and work as representatives of their own professions in the reconstruction of Soviet life. From a certain point of view, “Dow” can even be called a documentary that embodies the elements of the game.

What is the movie “Wow” about? Natasha”

Let us turn to the plot of the part “Dow. Natasha. Natasha and Olya work as barmaids in the institute’s canteen. Various visitors to the establishment are talking at the table, and girls run between them, bringing and cleaning dishes. Olya and Natasha are resting after a working day, talking about love and having a drink. One day a scientist from France, biophysicist Luc Biget comes into the dining room. The company accompanying him decides to arrange a stormy feast in honor of the successfully completed experiment. At the table, everyone, including the barmaids, jokes, drinks a lot, tries to understand each other in English and French, and, finally, everything ends with a love scene between Luke and Natasha.

The next day, everything returns to its place: the girl waits at the buffet, and the scientist dines, showing no signs of having spent a passionate night with the girl not so long ago. There will be no continuation of the fairy tale, but catastrophic consequences are coming. Natasha is summoned for interrogation to the local head of the KGB, Agippo. He accuses the poor girl of having a love affair with a foreigner and very cruelly explains how it is necessary to love one’s homeland. Natasha is sexually abused by a man: he forces her to undress and follow his humiliating orders. As a result of this long torture, Natasha signs the papers given to her by Agippo, in fact agreeing to spy for the Soviet state. After that, however, the girl does not leave immediately and even conducts a dialogue with her rapist, sitting at the same table with him.

This part of the huge Dow film caused a real scandal, because according to the director’s main idea, everything that happens on the screen should be real. This means no understudies, trained actors, and even a script (although the script originally existed for the authorship of the writer Vladimir Sorokin, as a result, everything that happens has become more improvisation).

The main indignation of viewers and critics was caused by the fact of naked, brutal violence, physical and sexual, to which the actress was subjected. Of particular resonance was the scene of rape with the neck of a bottle in the interrogation scene. Dow’s opponents speak not only of the overly explicit scenes of violence, but also of the very senselessness of such an experiment. Critics note that the mixture of documentary and fiction with the inclusion of elements of real violence is far from a new technique in cinema, it is enough to recall the early paintings of von Trier.

It is also necessary to pay attention that even if we discard the fact of the cruel method of the filming process, the plot of this picture itself comes down to a rather trivial demonstration of the struggle of the “little man” with the deadly machine of the dictatorship. However, many critics are inclined to believe that the fact of violence is secondary, and the very idea and characters are much more important. Natasha remains a living and thinking being, not a tracing-paper drama or a metaphor for some global image. She talks about love for different people (and not only for Luke, who, according to the canon of the genre, should have become her main unfulfilled love) and even finds the strength to sit down at the table with her tormentor to ask a lot of questions. Through the character of Natasha, one can reconstruct the image of many women of the Soviet Union: humiliated, driven to hysteria, but who managed to maintain their “I”, even under pressure from the totalitarian machine of Soviet power.

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