Wow! I thought the Gogol based horror fairy tale "The Viy"
from 1967 was the only genre film that the Soviet Union ever produced,
but i evidently was wrong. The 1987 or 1988 late Soviet Union film "Gospodin
Oformitel (Mister Designer)" is certainly a film of the
genre, the horror genre. It's a VERY unusual and Arty mystical film
drama but also a gothic horror .
OK, it's a Ghost Story and the film takes place between
1908 and 1914, the era of the Russian Decadence.
It's hard to define this film as you can see, but this
Ghost story is infused with death and decay but also with some romanticism
and at times also resembling Italian gothic horror films from the 1960's.
Hey, i'm still thinking about it (watched it a couple of weeks
ago) and i must see it again. Just look at the face of Viktor Avilov,
what a face, and he could be the Russian Klaus Kinski.
The film is the feature film debut by director and producer Oleg Teptsov
and it's based on the short story "The Grey Automobile"
by Aleksandr Grin Grin (1880-1932).
Sankt Petersburg 1908: A long intro scene with an avant-garde
ballet performance from which the designer, set decorator
or such walks out, Platon Andreyevich (Viktor Avilov)
and he's the dressed in Dandy-ish all white, but the question is if
there really were modern performances like this in Russia as early as
1908 ? Lets wiki it .....
And yes, it could be possible as theatre and ballet people as Stanislavsky
and Sergey Diaghilev created the new theatre
and ballet around this time of the Russian decadence and with exciting
symbolist writers as Fyodor Sologub working
In 1908 Platon is a famous and popular artist that besides
paintings also sculptures, set designs and decorate houses,
and he seems to be rich, living in a snazzy apartment with a butler
and dressing like a snob.
He's making a spectacular mannequin doll for displaying jewellery in
a shopping window, and he looks for a female model,
in the streets, in a mortuary and finally in a poor district of Sankt
Petersburg he finds a young woman, maybe a prostitute,
Anna Grigoryevna (Anna Demyanenko) dying in tuberculosis
to model for it, and the doll looks great.
Sankt Petersburg 1914: The passing of time has been
rough on Pavel, only 6 years has passed but he's not a popular
artist anymore, he's poor and a drug addict and injects the shit, maybe
morphine, by syringe. A junkie but still an artist.
A customer surprisingly turns up, a wealthy businessman Mr. Grilliot
(Mikhail Kozakov) and he wants Platon to decorate
his house, and he has visited Platon on behalf of his wife Maria
When Platon meets this Maria he recognizes her as Anna Grigoryevna,
the girl that modelled for him and who tragically
died in tuberculosis 6 years earlier. Can he solve this mystery ?
My final thoughts: No, it's not a Masterpiece but still
a Great film, and even though the direction felt a bit vague and
unsure at moments the actors, especially Viktor Avilov, the cinematography
and the soundtrack makes it a true gem
The DVD is presented in 4:3 fullscreen with russian
audio DD 5.1 with english subtitles, region all with an insert leaflet