A period piece about teenagers living in Moscow in the '70s, Vanished Empire screens tonight at 7 and at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 1 at the Cleveland Museum of Art Lecture Hall. Here is our review of the movie.
(Russia, 2008) In many ways, Sergei Narbekov (Alexander Lyapin), and Stepan (Yegor Baranovsky) are typical teens. They fall in and out of love with the same woman (Lyuda Beletskaya) and then struggle to work out their differences. They smoke pot and drink vodka. But unlike American teens, Sergei and Stepan are living in Moscow in the 1970s. So in order to get the latest Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd albums, they have to buy them on the black market. Sergey sells his grandfather’s (Armen Dzigarkhanyan) rare books in order to fund his record collection and buy designer jeans. He gets caught but continues to wreak havoc. Stepan is the straighter of the two, though he can’t avoid trouble, either. Karen Shakhnazarov’s film is ultimately nostalgic for the era when the West had yet to fully overtake Moscow. But this coming-of-age story works not only as a tale of young boys becoming men but also as a metaphor for a country trying to wall itself off from the rest of the world. ***