|Directed by||Georgiy Daneliya|
|Written by||Georgiy Daneliya
|Music by||Gia Kancheli|
|Edited by||Natalya Dobrunova|
Kin-dza-dza! (Russian: Кин-дза-дза!, translit. Kin-dzah-dza!) is a 1986 Soviet sci-fi dystopian black comedy cult film released by the Mosfilm studio and directed by Georgiy Daneliya, with a story by Georgiy Daneliya and Revaz Gabriadze. The movie was filmed in color, consists of two parts and runs for 135 minutes in total.
Like many of Daneliya's works, Kin-dza-dza! represents a double entendre in terms of parody and features dark and grotesque aspects of humanity. It depicts a desert planet, depleted of its resources, home to an impoverished dog-eat-dog society with extreme inequality and oppression.
The film is set in 1980s Moscow. Uncle Vova, a generic but gruff foreman and family man, goes outside to buy groceries. Standing right in the city centre on Kalinin Prospekt, a barefoot man dressed in a tattered coat appeals to anyone with a strange request: "Tell me the number of your planet in the tenture? Or least the number of your galaxy in the spiral?". Uncle Vova stops to talk to the man, as well as a young Georgian student with a violin (The Violinist), during which the stranger shows them an alien teleportation device – "traveller". Uncle Vova holds out his hand to the device and, despite the stranger's warnings, presses a random button. Suddenly Uncle Vova and the Violinist find themselves alone on the desert planet "Pluke" in the "Kin-dza-dza" galaxy.
The natives of the planet appear human, with deceptively primitive-looking technology and a barbaric culture, which satirically resembles that of humans. They are telepathic; the only spoken words normally used in their culture are “ku” (koo) and “kyu” (kyoo), the latter being a swear word. However, the Plukanians are able to quickly adapt to understand and speak Russian and Georgian. The society of Pluke is divided into two categories: Chatlanians and Patsaks. The difference is ascertained only by means of a small handheld device (visator), similar to flash drive in appearance; when pointed at a member of the Chatlanian group, an orange light on the device comes on; when pointed at a member of the Patsak group, a green light comes on. It is also noted that the social differences between Patsaks and Chatlanians are not constant: Pluke being a Chatlanian planet, so Chatlanians are privileged, and a system of rituals must be followed by the Patsaks to show flattery; but there are Patsak planets where Patsaks hold the upper hand and Chatlanians are subservient. The visator shows that Uncle Vova and the Violinist are Patsaks.
The only group allowed to use weapons (“tranklucators”) and enforce their will are the etsilops ("police" spelled backwards). Outside being a Patsak or Chatlanin, respect towards others is determined by the color of their pants; different shades require those of lower social standing to "ku" at them a predetermined amount of times, displaying their submission. The nominal leader of the Plukanian society is named Pezhe; everybody makes their best to display fervent worship to him and disrespect is severely punished; but, when encountered in person, Pezhe appears harmless and dumb. The fuel of Pluke is called luts and is made from water. All naturally present water has apparently been processed into luts, so drinking water is a valuable commodity (in fact, it can only be made from luts).
A good deal of the plot is based on the fact that ordinary wooden matchsticks (ketse) (or, rather, the chemicals of the match head) are considered to be extremely valuable on Pluke. Uncle Vova and the Violinist meet two locals, Wef and Bee, who at various points either help or abandon the duo from Earth in their quest to return back to Earth, which at various times involves repairing Wef and Bee's ship or raiding Pezhe's private compound.
Uncle Vova and the Violnist finally encounter the man from the film's beginning, but he disappears, making it uncertain if he took them with him. The film then jumps back to the very beginning, as Uncle Vova heads outside however there is no man at the city center, where he runs into the Violinist, however they do not recognize each other. Suddenly, a passing tractor with an orange flashing light reminds them of the ecilops and they both reflexively squat and say, "ku!" as was required on Pluke. They immediately recognize each other. Uncle Vova, looking at the sky, hears the sound of a song performed by the Wef and Bee.
Cast (in order of appearance)
- Stanislav Lyubshin as Vladimir Nikolayevich Mashkov (Uncle Vova (or "Mister Vova"))
- Galina Daneliya-Yurkova as Lyudmila (Lucya), the Mashkov's wife
- Levan Gabriadze as Gedevan Alexandrovich Alexidze (The Fiddler)
- Anatoli Serenko as the Barefoot Wanderer from Uzm
- Yury Yakovlev as Bi the Patsak, a wandering singer
- Yevgeny Leonov as Wef the Chatlanian, a wandering singer
- Alexander Litovkin as the gang leader
- Valentin Bukin as black-moustached ecilop in an egg-shaped pepelats, demonstrating how a tranklucator works
- Irina Shmelyova as Tsan, the cart driver (tachanka-driving woman, a wandering singer and dancer)
- Lev Perfilov as Kyrr, the dissident Chatlanian with a tranklucator
- Nina Ruslanova as Galina Borisovna, the vice-dean
- Yuri Voronkov as bearded Chatlanian, leader of the "Children of the Sun" sect (later seen in the subway train, pretending to be a Patsak)
- Olesya Ivanova as cage-banging white sectarian woman
- Lyudmila Solodenko as sand-throwing black sectarian girl
- Vitali Leonov as Shorty (from the sect)
- Nikolai Garo as Lord Pezhe
- Igor Bogolyubov as Lord Pezhe's Personal Patsak
- Victor Marenkov as Patsak, wearing a coil pipe for a mask and working as watchman
- Aleksandr Gorbachyov as grey-moustached elderly ecilop in an egg-shaped pepelats, who will want "40 chatles" and "immediately press the kappa" in a scene later
- Yelena Mashkova-Sulakadze as watchman's wife (redheaded Patsak woman in the trapdoor)
- Gennady B.Ivanov as black ecilop, guarding the underground communications
- Aleksandra Dorokhina as colossal Chatlanian woman, working as attendant in the subway station
- Victor Makhmutov as the red-headed Chatlanian
- Vladimir Fyodorov as Mr. Yellow Pants
- Yelena Antonova as Mr. Yellow Pants' girlfriend
- Tatyana Novitskaya as an employee in the planetarium
- Yuri Naumtsev as the judge
- Gennady Yalovich as secret agent
- Veronica Izotova as the gang leader's female Chatlanian slave, wearing a collar
- Vladimir Razumovsky as ecilop with muzzles
- Nina Ter-Osipian as Lord Pezhe's noble mother
- Harri Schweitz as Lord Pezhe's 1st bodyguard (bearded fatman)
- Valentin Golubenko as Lord Pezhe's 2nd bodyguard (long-nosed powerman)
- Oleg Matveyev as Lord Pezhe's 3rd bodyguard (young man wearing gloves)
- Olga Mashnaya as Dekont (from the planet Alpha)
- Georgiy Daneliya as Abradox (from the planet Alpha)
- Varvara Vladimirova as young Alphian mother
- Anya Andriyanova as little blonde Alphian girl
- Koo — All words, with the following exceptions:
- Kyu (pronounced kyew) — any profanity
- Ketseh (pronounced "keh-tseh", emphasis on the second syllable) — matches (or, rather, the chemicals ordinarily used on Earth for match heads)
- Chatl — a currency unit
- Tsak — a small bell worn on the nose to indicate the low social status of the wearer
- Tentura and Antitentura — two opposite parts of the Universe. Some planets and galaxies exist in Tentura and some (including Earth) in Antitentura
- Pepelats — an interplanetary spacecraft (from the Georgian word "pepela" for butterfly)
- Tsapa — a component for different machines. A big tsapa is a very important component for the pepelats. A small tsapa is a component for the gravitsapa; without the small tsapa, a gravitsapa will not work. Tsapa is similar to a very rusty screwnut
- Gravitsapa — a component for the pepelats which allows intergalactic travel (from 'gravity' + 'tsapa')
- Tranklucator — a weapon
- Visator — compact device, detects difference between Patsaks and Chatlanians
- Kappa — a button or lever
- Luts — the fuel used by the pepelats, it is made of water
- Chatlanin — being with a high social status (detected as "orange" on a Visator)
- Patsak — being with a low social status (detected as "green" on a Visator)
- Ecilop — a policeman ("police" spoken backwards)
- Etsikh — a box for prisoners; also the imprisonment in such box (as a penalty); also the Ecikh is a jail with many such boxes ("Ecikh" is from the Georgian word "tsikhe" for prison, castle). Ecikh with nails is extremely hard punishment.
The movie has been released on DVD in Russia but has gained virtually no notice elsewhere, with the exception of Japan. This is largely due to the fact that there was no official release of the movie with English subtitles for a long time. While the movie was in the making, a censorship threat emerged due to the use of the word Ku (Koo) which sounded like the initials "K. U." of the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the USSR at the time, K. U. Chernenko. Chernenko who assumed the leadership in 1984, died in 1985, and this removed the danger.
Since 2013, a digitally-restored Blu-ray Disc version is available.
In 2013, Daneliya released an animated remake of his film, named Ku! Kin-dza-dza! (Russian: Ку! Кин-дза-дза). The animated version was based on the same plot, but targeted more towards children and the international audience. It had a budget of 140 million rubles. Ku! Kin-dza-dza! won Best Animated Feature Film in the 2013 Asia Pacific Screen Awards.