Saturday, 18 December 2010

Moscow - Winter in monochrome

Moscow - Winter in monochrome

Moscow winters tend to become very monochrome in every sense of the word. When you stare out of the window everything looks like a black and white Japanese painting, all misty swirls and opaque brushstrokes. Today is one such day.  The steam pouring out from the tall chimneys of  electric power stations around Moscow adds a misty mystery to the atmosphere as the vapour drifts in copious clouds across the horizon. I'm not sure what long periods of such conditions do to the human psyche - perhaps I'm better off not knowing, especially after fifteen years as a resident.
To go out in -10 with a freezing wind blowing billowing snow off the north east or where ever, is not a pleasant prospect and most sane people avoid it. So what to do. No problem. Firstly I am writing this new blog. This I hope will be an occasional series of pieces or chronicles about a film makers life in Moscow and occasionally just the life of a simple human being who happens to live in Moscow.
Generally however the perspective will be from film making because that is what I do - make films in Russia and from time to time in other places as well - Japan for instance in 2009. As yet I am not sure exactly what shape this blog will take and how the content will develop but it is likely to have a more personal tone with simple and maybe even mundane reflections. However as the artist and photographer Alexander Rodchenko once wrote. "Our task in photography is to make the extraordinary appear mundane and the mundane appear extraordinary".  Such a philosophy can unearth unexpected and rich deposits of knowledge and insight. So taking this as my starting point, off we go.

Friday, 17 December 2010

16th December 2010 - Every Cloud

Out in Moscow on a cold December morning trying to pick up medicine for the flu which everyone here is suffering from. 9.30 AM on VDNX, the Moscow region  a district which served as an exhibition centre for the technological, scientific and cultural achievements of the USSR. Each republic had its own building in the complex which stretched across tens of acres. It was a kind of showcase for everything the USSR felt proud of. It was built during the Stalin period and added to in the Brezhniev era. Now it is a vast market place for selling and exhibiting the newest capitalist products from the west.
I can never seem to get my bearings when when I exit from the metro on VDNX. Fortunately Natasha had given me good directions and I exited from the metro entrance into the wintry, misty sunlit expanse that is Moscow. As Natasha had promised the raised highway was on my right and the hilly open ground topped by an orthodox church was on my left. It was the church which attracted my attention, its reddish brick exterior and onion domes were not unlike any other church of comparable size and character which can be found in Russia. However it was bathed in winter sunlight which descended through the misty cloud cover, revealing it in an ephemeral light which was only dimly reflected up from the snow covered expanse of ground which surrounds the church. My reaction was immediate and clear. This scene would fit neatly into the Stanislavsky film"Stanislavsky and Russian Theatre". I made a mental note to myself to return on a similar day with similar weather conditions and film the scene. It has since been added to the list of locations for the film.