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Film / My Friend Ivan Lapshin

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My Friend Ivan Lapshin is a 1984 Soviet film by Alexei German. He based it on his father's recollections of his friendship with the criminal police chief.

It is a story set in a provincial Russian city Uchansk of the mid-30s, pre-Great Purge of 1937-38. Several officers of the criminal police including the titular Lapshin live in a small communal flat. A writer (played by Andrei Mironov) arrives in the city and settles in the flat of his friend Ivan Lapshin. He wishes to participate with the policemen in their activities an anticriminal operation but Lapshin is hesitant as he does not wish to endanger his friend who is also an acclaimed writer.



  • All Love Is Unrequited: Lampshaded by Adasheva who says it to Lapshin.
  • Aloof Dark-Haired Girl: The bride of Okoshkin who is shown only briefly.
  • Awful Wedded Life: Invoked by Vasya Okoshkin. He leaves the communal flat to move with his wife. He also says that his future mother-in-law is very sympathetic with him. In the epilogue he returns and reports that it did not work out. For example they gave him three roubles and sent him to a store to buy a herring. Of course a criminal police officer wouldn't swallow it.
  • Confess to a Lesser Crime: The suspect interrogated by Lapshin confesses to only having lured a man into a room where he was killed by his accomplices.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: This film, made in the late 70s to early 80s, is in B&W.
  • Driven to Suicide: Khanin. He fails it shooting by accident in the space after he cannot shoot in either his head or in his heart.
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  • Framing Device: The narrator is the son of Zanadvorov, who lives with his father in the same communal flat as Lapshin and the visiting Khanin. He is shown only in the prologue and also speaks in the epilogue.
  • The Gulag: Invoked but not in the usual sense. People are sent to Gulag for violating the criminal law. The members of the criminal police department don't fight political dissidents, their clients are career criminals.
  • It's for a Book:
    • Khanin wants to be present at the police operation to pick up the material to include in his book.
    • Also Adasheva who is preparing to play a hooker asks Lapshin to get her in touch with the one. Conveniently Lapshin has arrested a girl of the oldest profession.
  • Leave the Camera Running: In several scenes the camera lingers on after th action is over.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Khanin acts according to this trope during the climactic operation aganst the Soloviev gang. He is badly wounded as a result. However, the gang leader Soloviev himself is captured.
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  • Love Triangle: For Ivan Lapshin, Khanin and Natalya Adashina. Natalya loves Khanin while Lapshin
  • Most Writers Are Writers: Khanin is a writer.
  • Only One Name: Khanin the writer is actually never mentioned by name.
  • Put on a Bus: Khanin in the middle of the film is put on a bus arranged within a truck. He later returns without much fuss. In the end he departs for good on a boat.
  • Shown Their Work: Alexei German as always made a thorough research of the era when the film is set (1936). The interiors are carefully reconstructed and the props are authentic.
  • Splash of Color: The prologue and epilogue of this film are in colour.
  • Stylistic Suck: The new play staged in the provincial theatre is glorifying the communist rehabilitation of the criminals. The narrator points out that it is a weak adaptation.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Ivan Lapshin and Vasya Okoshkin.


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