Reading 23 April 2018


19:30 Location: Berlin Fräulein Schneefeld & Herr Hund, Prenzlauer Allee 23, 10405 Berlin, Germany Organizer: Fräulein Schneefeld & Herr Hund - Chocolaterie&Buchhandlung Speaker: Stefan Monhardt
Publisher: Edition Monhardt
Rezo Cheishvili’s novel came out in the Cinema Library series, which published works which have resulted in world-acclaimed films. An unequivocally anti-Soviet work which was a mirror of the bureaucracy of the time and showed us, with subtle humor, the life of Soviet officials, miraculously ‘got through’ the merciless Soviet censorship (apparently the Soviet censors couldn’t grasp the work’s main idea). The novel was turned into a film script, the basis for the 1981 film The Blue Mountains, or An Unbelievable Story, which was somehow allowed to be shot (the director was Eldar Shengelaia). At the Cannes festival in 2014 The Blue Mountains, or An Unbelievable Story (IMDB 8.9) was deservedly accepted in the world film classic section. The work tells us about the story of the young author Soso (in the novel the hero’s profession is not specified, he may be a young scientist). The organization where the action takes place is either an editorial office or a scientific research institution. This is deliberately left undefined, because similar situations in Soviet times could be found in any institution. In a word, in what is supposedly an editorial office, Soso, the chief hero of the work returns from leave and brings his writings or work The Blue Mountains, or Tian Shan to the director for evaluation. Autumn passes while he waits for his manuscript to be examined, then winter and spring pass… Not only has nobody read his work, every existing copy of it disappears without trace. Everyone in this institution is busy with their own affairs: the director is always running about, from conference to bank, from bank to meeting, from meeting to banquet, and so on without end; some of the editors are learning French, some are sewing, some are having lunch, some are on leave, some are on business trips, others are playing chess: the impression we get is that they do anything except work. The only person who reads manuscripts is a painter (a workman who is doing repairs)… The film is an allegorical comedy. It strips the mask off Soviet bureaucracy and lack of accountability. People in the office work, within the bounds of the framework of their narrow personal interests; the futility of this system ends up with the destruction, in the literal sense, of the institution, and in the figurative sense, culminates in the approaching destruction of the Soviet system. ‘This didn’t seem to be material for a film, but if anyone else had filmed it, nothing might have come of it… Because there is no well-defined plot, there is no love, no singing, no eating, no detective story, there is just empty dialogue, talk which even today is significant…’ wrote Rezo Cheishvili about The Blue Mountains. This work is an allegory of the Soviet epoch: a closed space, a theatre of the absurd, which is openly played out on stage for the reader to see the senselessness of a system, which was doomed to collapse.