The Needle (Игла, Igla) is a 1988 Soviet film directed by Rashid Nugmanov, starring the iconic Soviet rock musician Viktor Tsoi, leader of the band Kino. Tsoi plays the enigmatic drifter "Moro", who comes to Alma-Ata, Kazakhstan, to extract a debt from his old buddy "Spartak". He decides to pay a visit to his ex-girlfriend Dina, who recently became a morphine addict. Moro takes her to the Aral Sea, where she begins to recover. But when they return to Alma-Ata, the drug dealers try to ensnare them with morphine. So Moro confronts their leader, the doctor Artur, who tries to kill our hero. The film has since become most famous for its soundtrack (written by Tsoi), and many Tsoi/Kino fans have a strong Nostalgia Filter for it.
The film was re-released in 2010 as The Needle Remix. Remix adds some new scenes and expands on the plot of the film, as well as featuring a lot of well-received music composed for the film. Some of the new music was composed by U-Piter, a band consisting notably of famous Soviet-Russian rock musician Vyacheslav Butusov and ex-Kino guitarist Yuri Kasparyan (who also composed some of the original music from way back in 1988). However, it was controversial for some of its changes to the plot, such as Spartak's new fate.
In 2019, the original film was re-released in high resolution and shown in cinemas.
- Affably Evil: Artur. He seems like a respectable doctor at first, but it turns out that he's in charge of morphine trafficking in the city.
- The Aggressive Drug Dealer: Artur.
- Ambiguous Ending: On purpose. In the end, Moro gets stabbed and slowly walks away into the snowy park. It is unknown whether he stays alive or bleeds out afterward. Averted in Remix, where Moro survives and makes it home off-screen to his family.
- Bald of Evil: Artur, especially in the new scenes from Remix where he is very noticeably older and balder.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Tsoi as Moro wears pure black outfits, similar to what he wore in real life.
- Deadly Doctor: Artur.
- Downer Ending The film ends with Moro getting stabbed and slowly walking away into the dark, snowy path, leaving his ultimate fate ambiguous. Subverted in Remix, where Moro survives the stabbing and makes it home off-screen.
- Drugs Are Bad: The whole premise behind Moro and Dina's relationship. While drugs were a small problem in the USSR (especially when compared to the USA), Rashid Nugmanov chose to focus on this issue as it wasn't commonly addressed in the censored Soviet media of the time.
- Fingerless Gloves: You know Moro's about to kick some ass when he puts them on.
- Funny: when watching the film, you will notice that his gloves actually have fingers. But after you will always remember them as fingerless.
- Going Cold Turkey: Dina at the Aral.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Spartak in Remix, where he gets his head chopped off by a woman he held captive in a bomb shelter bunker for years as a breeding mate in case of a nuclear holocaust. It's pretty clear why this is one of the more controversial additions of Remix.
- Saharan Shipwreck: While he and Dina are looking for the beach, Moro finds a deserted ship, the Gidrolog (meaning Hydrologist) that he climbs on top of. Due to the rapid draining of the Aral Sea, it is now a completely empty desert, with the occasional rusted wreck serving as a last reminder of what was only decades ago.
- Thirsty Desert: The Aral Sea is famous for having almost completely drained in only a few decades. Dina mentions that she and Moro have been to the Aral a few years ago. However, when they arrive again, they decide to go for a swim, only to find that the sea is nowhere to be found.
- Toxic Friend Influence: Dina says that Artur is a good man, that he helped her when she was new to the city and lonely. But then he introduced her to morphine. Eventually, she became an addict and Artur used her apartment to store the goods.
- Walk It Off: At the end, where Moro gets stabbed and walks off into the never-ending snowy path.