Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Night Watch

In order not to be subjected to the anti-Israel atrocity propaganda that fills the nightly airwaves here, I've been watching a lot of movies lately. Finally got around to seeing Night Watch (Nochnoi Dozor), Timur Bekmambetov's strikingly energetic adaptation of Sergey Lukyanenko's science-fiction thriller about the struggle to keep one's humanity during battle.

The battle in this case is an eternal struggle between the forces of Light and Darkness, represented respectively by a Soviet-style city electric company bureaucrat and his team on one side, and some "cool" private-sector types--videogame, pop-music, butchers in a marketplace--on the other. They fight for the souls of the "Others"--people with special gifts. Oh yes, the Dark ones are vampires. And there is a Truce which gets violated all the time, too. Day Watch and Night Watch patrol the truce. Think Checkpoint Charlie with vampires.

At first, I thought the picture seemed too crude and noisy, just a videogame imitation Hollywood blockbuster. But it stuck with me, I thought about it a lot--with all the talk of the truce in Lebanon making it seem relevant. In the end, it seemed to me there was a symbolic level that the picture was operating on that made it the super-blockbuster of the year in Moscow. It has something to do with the collapse of Communism--because the revolution, in Leninist terminology, devoured its children.

The Vampirism is a trope, symbol, that goes deeper than Buffy the Vampire Slayer (seen on a TV clip). It has something to do with the famous Russian Character and Russian Soul--maybe even Gogol's dead souls. The Day Watch and Night Watch are symbolic too.

But of what? The Cold War? The Clash of Civilizations? Stay tuned, since part two of the trilogy has been completed in Russia, and will soon be coming to a theatre or DVD store near you...