Cargo 200 (film)
|Directed by||Aleksei Balabanov|
|Produced by||Sergei Selyanov|
|Written by||Aleksei Balabanov|
16 May 2007 (Cannes)|
14 June 2007 (Russia)
|Box office||RUB 3,553,428 (Russia)|
Cargo 200 (Russian: Груз 200, translit. Gruz 200) is a Russian thriller film from 2007 by Aleksei Balabanov depicting the late Soviet society. The action is set during the culmination of the Soviet war in Afghanistan in 1984. The movie's title Cargo 200 refers to the zinc coffins in which dead Soviet soldiers were shipped home. The movie was said to be based on a true story.
Artemy (Leonid Gromov), professor of Scientific Atheism at the Leningrad State University, is visiting his brother in a small town. There he meets Valery (Leonid Bichevin), a young man who is dating his niece and has come to take her to a party. On the way back from Leninsk to Leningrad Artemy's car breaks down and he goes into an isolated farmhouse to get help. Artemy gets to talking with the farmhouse owner, Alexey (Aleksei Serebryakov). The two drink together homemade alcohol and argue about faith in God and retribution from sins, the professor defending the Soviet atheist worldview. Artemy also encounters Alexey's wife, Antonina (Natalya Akimova), as well as Sunka (Mikhail Skryabin), a Vietnamese worker working at the farm, who seems to be practically a personal slave of Alexey's, and a third stranger who is not explained at the time. Sunka worker finally fixes Artemy's car and the professor drives on. Being too drunk, he prefers to return to his brother.
Meanwhile, Valery goes to a party by himself, since his girlfriend (Artemy's niece) needs to study. At the concert Valery meets another female student friend of his named Angelika (Agniya Kuznetsova), the daughter of a high-ranking Communist Party official, and they drink together. After the party, in search of more alcohol, Valery drives with her to a farm of moonshiners, which turns out to be the same farm Artemy had visited earlier. Valery tells Angelika to stay in the car while he gets the alcohol. However, instead of returning directly to the car, he gets drunk senseless with the moonshiner, Alexey. Angelika, waiting in the car, notices that she is being watched by a strange man. She gets scared, and tries to get help from Antonina, who gives the girl a shotgun and hides her in a barn. The stranger, who turns out to be a police officer Captain Zhurov (Aleksei Poluyan), enters the barn and takes away the gun. When Sunka tries to defend the girl, Zhurov murders him, then rapes the girl with a bottle (it appears that he himself is impotent). In the morning he handcuffs her, taking her to his flat in Leninsk, and keeps the girl handcuffed to a bedframe in his bedroom, watched over by his deranged alcoholic mother, while he brings local small-time criminals in to rape her, killing one after he fails to "please" the girl. The girl threatens that her fiancé, who is an army paratrooper, will save her. Captain Zhurov finds out, however, that her fiance had just been killed in Afghanistan. He arranges to have the zinc-lined coffin shipped to his apartment where he opens it and throws the corpse on the bed next to the screaming girl.
Alexey the moonshiner is arrested for the killing of his Sunka. Captain Zhurov visits Alexey in his cell and convinces him to take the blame for the crime in return for some unexplained earlier favors. Alexey gets a visit from his wife Antonina and explains to her why he has to agree to confess. Antonina meets Artemy, the professor whose testimony might exonerate her husband, but Artemy refuses to testify since that would jeopardize his academic career. Alexey is convicted, sentenced to the death penalty, and summarily executed. Antonina takes a shotgun and goes to Zhurov's apartment, where she encounters screaming Angelica still chained to the bed next to the rotting corpses. She shoots and kills Zhurov, then walks out without attempting to help the girl. Meanwhile, Artemy enters a church and asks to be baptized. In the last scenes Valery (who escaped the entire affair unscathed and without letting anyone know that he knows anything), is shown discussing business propositions with a friend of his (the son of Artemy, Slavic). The two are excited about the amount of money that can be made in the disintegrating country.
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Wally Hammond from Time Out gave the film a mostly positive review, stating, "Whether this superbly-acted, finely-directed, vision of hell is intended as a despairing state-of-the-nation address or a shocking spirital wake-up call is unclear; what is certain, it's certainly provides this year's grizzliest cinematic ghost-ride". Vadim Rizov from Village Voice gave the film a positive review, praising the film's direction, performances, and its ability to hold its tension throughout its running time, calling it, "an unflinching portrait of the grim vileness of Soviet Russia in 1984". The plot of the movie bears a resemblance to William Faulkner's novel Sanctuary, which was set in Mississippi in 1929.
- 2007 - Gijón International Film Festival for Best Director (Aleksey Balabanov)
- 2008 - Rotterdam International Film Festival: KNF Award'(Aleksey Balabanov)
- 2007 - Gijón International Film Festival: Grand Prix Asturias (Aleksey Balabanov])
- 2007 - Sochi Open Russian Film Festival: Grand Prize of the Festival (Aleksey Balabanov)
- 2007 - Russian Guild of Film Critics Awards: Best Film
- «Груз 200»: жестокое кино Балабанова «не рекомендовано» телеканалам, svobodanews.ru, June 06, 2007 (in Russian)
- Алексей Балабанов: нормы не существует, gazeta.ru, May 24, 2007 (in Russian)
- Andrew Osborn, From Russia, Without Love: New Movie Slams Soviet Union, Wall Street Journal, June 21, 2007
- Hammond, Wally. "Cargo 200, directed by Alexei Balabanov". Time Out.com. Wally Hammond. Retrieved 13 October 2015.
- Rizov, Vadim. "Cargo 200 an Unflinching, Quasi-Comedic Portrait of 1984 Russia". Village Voice.com. Vadim Rizov. Retrieved 13 October 2015.
- The Quarterly Conversation, June 4, 2012
- Rotterdam Film Festival
- "2007". Russian Guild of Film Critics.