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A Soviet cult sci-fi dystopian post-apocalyptic satirical
1986 Georgi Danelia
movie about two Soviet citizens getting stranded on another planet.
They deal with telepathic human aliens
, figure out how things are done there
and try to get home.
Google Video has an English subtitled version
This film provides examples of:
- Accidental Misnaming: Everyone calls Gedevan Fiddler, even if he says the violin isn't his and he can't even play it.
- Animated Adaptation: After spending several years in Development Hell, it's finally released in April 2013. Reportedly, it is based on the original script without the Executive Meddling-mandated changes.
- The plot of the adaptation is similar to the movie plot, but the characters from Earth are different: Uncle Vova is a musician, not a foreman, and his tagalong is his nephew Tolik, a wannabe DJ. Oh, and they are from the XXI century. Also, Abradox is not a sufficiently advanced alien but an annoying robot sidekick.
- Batman Gambit: Gidevan and the aliens play a game of chess, and Gidevan loses, because the aliens can read his thoughts. He starts deliberately thinking bad moves for them and wins.
- Bilingual Bonus: "Pepelats" (those flying ... things) means "butterfly" in Georgian (the director's and script-writers' native tongue), only with a "ts" tacked on the end for flavor.
- Etzikh (jail coffins) is derived from "tzikhe" - "jail" in Georgian.
- Ketse (matches) are named after traditional Georgian clay frying pans.
- This caused a significant problem for Danelia, because the censors for some reasons believed that it was a sneak attack at "ЦК" (Cental Committee of the CPSU, commonly pronounced as "TSE-kah" in Russian).
- Black Comedy
- Blue and Orange Morality
- Butt Monkey: Fiddler.
- Colour-Coded For Your Convenience: In addition to the caste system there is a secondary hierarchy on Pluck based on the colour of your pants.
- Crapsack World: Pluck and the entire galaxy of Kin-Dza-Dza. They make contrast with Crystal Spires and Togas below.
- Creator Cameo: The director (Georgiy Daneliya) stars as Abradox on Alpha (the German actor originally cast in the role was unable to show up for filming).
- Crystal Spires and Togas: The Alpha people do the toga bit.
- Dystopia: It's funny! And half of it became true. It's still funny.
- Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: PJ's mother.
- Executive Meddling: Originally Fiddler was supposed to give the music professor presents from his trip in Abkhazia along with the violin that he forgot because he got drunk. One of the presents was Chacha, Georgian brandy. Right when the film was going to be released Gorbachev started his anti-alcohol campaign and they had to change Chacha to vinegar. Which didn't make sense, since why would anyone send vinegar for a present? Curiously, the subtle reference that the professor got drunk and forgot his violin stayed.
- It does lead to the Running Joke of people trying to drink the vinegar and spitting it out. Finally an etsilop confiscates it from Fiddler and despite the characters warning him off, drinks the entire thing with no signs of distress.
- The joke only became more acidic, because during the late Soviet Prohibition, unsurprisingly, drinking liquids previously considered undrinkable became a rather common occurrence.
- In the animated version Uncle Vova is the music professor.
- Fantastic Caste System: Apart from Patsak/Chatlanian division (below) there is a caste system that regulates how many times one should squat before an owner of pants of various special colours and if you have pants of a colour lower than magenta you can be randomly beaten up by local police at night.
- Fantastic Racism: A small device called a "visator" determines if you are "Patsak" or "Chatlanian", and thus determines whether you will be oppressed or privileged. The difference between "Patsak" and "Chatlanian" is not racial, it's not genetic, it's not biological and it isn't ethnic. The only way to tell is to just use the device. Moreover, the planets in the galaxy are divided into chatlanean and patzkaen as well. Thus the same person will be a master on "his" planet and a slave on the "wrong" one. Both Chatlanians and Patzaks seem to be fine with that.
- Good Is Not Soft: Alphians. They are eager to help the protagonists return home and are polite and composed even when faced with their rudeness. But they make no bones about the trespassers from KDD, which given what the residents of KDD do to each other (and, in the script, what they tried to do to Alpha thrice), i.e. exterminate whole planets just because fuck them, is quite understandable. Even then Alphians are humane (well, from their point of view at least) enough to not just shoot the invaders on approach but turn them into cacti.
- Human Aliens: All aliens look exactly like humans. Which is why Vova doesn't believe that they're not on Earth and thinks they're in one of those "dreaded capitalist countries" at first.
- Idiot Ball: Vladimir Nikolaevich gives away all his matches (a huge fortune, as he's already aware) to a smuggler for a bottle of water and some plastic snacks, when, for all he knew, in a short while he'd be able to return home. Also, Gidevan, in the example stated below, attempts to steal a very heavy coffin with an Human Alien inside, when the local police is about to fall upon them, and when he already has a fully functional ray gun.
- Indecisive Parody: In a very interesting and strange way, this film is satire of both Soviet AND capitalist states. The creators are not quite sure themselves.
- Intimidation Demonstration: An etsilop performed Diagonal Cut on a faraway water... er, sand tower just to make a point.
- Kleptomaniac Hero: The Fiddler collects any "unknown alien metals" and technology he can get by barter or plain theft. One time, unknowingly, he steals Gravitsappa. For Science! Turned Up to Eleven when he tries to kidnap an alien prisoner with the coffin he's in.
- MacGuffin: The "gravitsappa".
- Mary Sue Topia: Alpha starts like a sterile place with very polite people and nice gardens.
- Na´ve Newcomer: Uncle Vova at first, although he eventually learns better.
- Omnicidal Maniac: At least two of the planets of the Kin-Dza-Dza galaxy, and there's no reason to believe the others are any better. Not because of a desire to kill, but rather because of a lack of the concept "Why not to do [something]" in their mindsets.
Gidevan: "Why did they [Pluckans] do it [destroyed the home planet of Bi and Uef]?"
Uef: "So that we don't do it to them first."
Gidevan: "And why would you do that?"
Uef: "So that they don't hang over our heads."
- Only Electric Sheep Are Cheap: Pluck's inhabitants destroyed the ecology on their own world and converted every single drop of natural water on the planet to lutz (fuel). Matchsticks (made of natural wood and sulfur) are incredibly valuable on Pluck.
- Police State: Law enforcement units called etsilopp are corrupt and can come to you at night to beat you up. Unless you are a proud owner of magenta pants (or higher).
- Ray Gun: There are ray guns called trancklucators. While you can't see the beam, they're just as deadly. Apparently, they come so different in size and look, that a random pipe could be passed off as one. There are even some capable of trancklucating a planet.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Fiddler tries to give one to the Pluckians and fails.
- And later, compacted into a single phrase, to Alphians.
- Scenery Gorn: The entire movie; the image of (full scale) Ferris wheel half buried in the sands is probably the most impressive.
- Sdrawkcab Name: Phonetically, Etsilop is reversed Polizei.
- Those Two Guys: Wef and B.
- Time Travel
- Translation Convention: The inhabitants of the Kin-Dza-Dza galaxy are telepathic and usually have very little need to talk (which explains why there are only dozens of words in their vocabulary). Vova and Fiddler are not telepathic, but aliens scan their minds and learn Russian (or Georgian) and talk with them.
- Trapped in Another World
- Troubled Production: Between the filming in the desert with no infrastructure to speak of (and this being the 80s Soviet Union, that really is saying something), the railway losing all prepared sets (they were eventually found after filming on the other side of the country) in shipping, which forced the team to cobble them together from scrap in-place,note the relentless Executive Meddling from the authorities, script changes due to Gorbachev's anti-alcohol campaign, and half of the film actually being ad-libbed, it's a major miracle that it was just completed, much less becoming the instant cult classic that it is.
- Used Future: while the film takes place in "present" times, the technology used by the aliens is highly advanced and everything is appropriately rusty:
Uncle Vova: "Hey astronauts, which one is tsappa here?"
B: "The rusty one, darling."
Uncle Vova: "Everything is rusty here."
B: "And tsappa is the rustiest."
- What Could Have Been: Based on the published script, there was a B-plot about a citizen of Pluck starting a revolution, overthrowing PJ and becoming new tyrant of the planet.
- Worthless Yellow Rocks: Matches are the most valuable currency on Pluck. When Uncle Vova forgets that and uses them to smoke, Wef and B get incredibly distressed. Pants of different colours are also in high demand, because they determine your social status.
- Also subverted with actual money. After Gedevan mentions how many matches he can buy on his 50 rubles, Wef tells him to leave the money as he goes to the catapult.