St. Valentine’s Day Special: Day of Love (1990)

dayoflove1

To celebrate the occasion today we’re going to write about a film called Day of Love (День Любви, 1990). Sarcastically enough, Day of Love is rape and revenge film. A Soviet rape and revenge film.

The film is one of the examples of the so-called co-operative cinema – a phenomenon that flourished in the last few years of the Soviet Union, when agony of the regime and premonition of freedom were in the air.

In 1988 the law allowing private enterprise came into effect, and films suddenly became goods that anybody can produce and sell. For the first time in history cinema in the USSR became producer’s cinema – before that the only “producer” was the state.

The inflow of private funds into film industry resulted in a new type of film-making: with lower budgets, smaller crews, faster production process, and with more explicit subjects (see The Gang of Lesbians, 1991).

Newly-qualified Soviet producers soon realised: to sell films quickly they have to appeal to a basic instincts

Newly-qualified Soviet producers soon realised: to sell films quickly they have to appeal to a basic instincts

In Day of Love, in order to draw police’s attention from a major robbery a crime boss orchestrates a series of rapes around the town and cynically calls it “the day of love”. Kristina Kashina, a winner of a local beauty contest, also gets raped, and her family sets out to avenge the girl.

I am amazed how savvy were the creators of the film: when the heroine (who we know to be a virgin) gets raped, her hand reaches out to the bowl of cherries and squeezes them, which is a visual metaphor obviously having its roots in an English slang phrase “to pop a cherry”.

I am amazed how savvy were the creators of the film: when the heroine (who we know to be a virgin) gets raped, her hand reaches out to the bowl of cherries and squeezes them, which is a visual metaphor obviously having its roots in an English slang phrase “to pop a cherry”

A 1986 film Cobra, starring Sylvester Stallone, is a leitmotif of Day of Love: first Kristina watches on TV a sequence in which Stallone impales in the back by a huge hook and burns alive his main enemy; and later she is avenged by her relatives exactly the same way, the message being that angry Soviet parents can be as tough as Stallone and Soviet co-operative cinema can be as spectacular as products of the West.

Stallone through a Soviet TV screen

Stallone through a Soviet TV screen

What is particularly interesting about the finale of Day of Love is that KAMAZ factory (a Russian truck manufacturer) becomes a site for sophisticated torture and elimination of bandits-rapers, which is possibly the first case of product placement within Soviet cinema (the new market works by different rules).

A hypertextual connection: Day of Love (top) and Cobra (bottom).

A hypertextual connection: Day of Love (top) and Cobra (bottom)

Co-operative cinema didn’t last long, first stifled by the vestiges of the Soviet system, and then completely annihilated by the wave of American import that flooded the cinema screens after the collapse. But thanks to this brief but very productive period of Soviet cinema history we can enjoy fantastic sleazy masterpieces like Day of Love.

4 Comments

  1. Pingback: Obskura » Breaking Soviet taboos: Merry Christmas in Paris! or The Gang of Lesbians (1991)

  2. Very interesting and informative article on a period in film history I didn’t know a thing about.
    Cheers for sharing this!

    • Obskura

      Very glad to hear that, thanks, Vincent!
      Yeah, this period in film history indeed has a lot of surprises for film lovers 😉

  3. Pingback: The image of youth in late Soviet cinema: Monstrous Youth | Obskura

Leave a Reply