RFF7 Chronicle: Pipeline / Труба (2013)
Pipeline, the latest film by the renowned Russian documentary film-maker Vitaly Mansky (Anatomy of t.A.T.u., 2003; Virginity, 2008), follows the course of the Trans-Siberian gas pipeline from secluded parts of Asian Russia into the heart of Europe. Travelling the length of the pipeline, Mansky’s camera peeks at people, whose lives in a greater or lesser way are conditioned by the commercial mineral. However, having the intangible wealth flowing right under their feet did not necessarily have a positive effect on the quality of their lives.
Pipeline adheres to an observational style, portraying life as it enfolds before the camera, but motivated by an aesthetic intention rather than informative purposes. This, together with the astonishing photography and pace, will inevitably remind you of Godfrey Reggio. In addition to the formal aspects, the treatment of industrialisation turns this movie into the antipodean vision of Koyaanisqatsi.
The debate between the two intellectual movements of Westernisers and Slavophiles always fascinated Mansky. Born in Lviv, one of the most Western cities of the Soviet Union in both geographical and ideological sense, since his early years he was exposed to the Western influences and at the same time found dazzling the conservatism and affiliation with its own roots exhibited by certain parts of Russian population. The Europe – Asia dichotomy is one of the strongest motives in Pipeline, and Mansky’s film language is much more eloquent in expressing the non-Westernised indigenous parts of Russia and Ukraine.
As Mansky remarked during Q&A, “a lot of Russia’s misfortunes are the result of its wealth”. Pipeline is an engaging elaboration of this idea, and a thought-provoking document of Russia’s ‘life out of balance’.