MMM studio presents: Gongofer (1992)
Gongofer (Гонгофер, 1992) is the most cryptic film in the history of post-Soviet cinema, the meaning of which we won’t even try to decipher. As the opening title states, the film is a story of “a cossack Kol’ka Smagin – a tall, handsome man with brown eyes. Until he was 25, his eyes were brown, then they were changed for blue ones. How is it possible? Who changed them? This is what the story is about”.
Kol’ka Smagin comes to visit some agricultural exhibition in Moscow and gets hooked up with a femme fatale named Ganna. She is presenting a boar-inseminator Gongofer at the exhibition. Ganna and Kol’ka spend the night together at her apartment, and by dawn, in the middle of an intercourse Ganna attacks Kol’ka, tears out his eyes and replaces them with the ones of a different colour. In other words, Dr. Freud can be proud of this artistic treatment of the castration anxiety. The rest of the film Kol’ka and his uncle try to recover Kol’ka’s original eyes, as the film’s plot becomes more and more enigmatic.
In case you get around watching the film, we’ll give you a tip that can clear some things out: good characters in the film only drink from dirty, sooty vessels; whereas the bad ones – from spotlessly clean glasses.
Apart from its plot, there are several other things that make Gongofer peculiar. First of all it was sponsored by MMM, and who is at least a little bit familiar with Russian history of the post-Soviet period will know that MMM was the company that appeared to be one of the world’s largest financial pyramids of all time. It was established by Sergei Mavrodi in 1990s, and by 1995 40 million people lost 10 billion dollars. The director of Gongofer Bahyt Kilibaev also shot several promotional clips for MMM.
Another thing that adds to the film’s mysterious aura is that it was never released neither on VHS nor DVD. The film’s soundtrack by Russian rock band Nol’ (Ноль – “zero”) also never saw the light. This is a great pity, because if the film itself is far from being a masterpiece, its soundtrack is utterly brilliant. Nol’ is notable for using accordion as a leading instrument as well as for their simplistic and daring lyrics.
This one, called ‘Name’ (Имя), is our absolute favourite. It appears in the film when Kol’ka realises he has lost his eyes. Telling a story of a childhood trauma, it begins with:
When I was a schoolboy I got really drunk.