Or, in English, Striped Trip. Also known in English as A Lively Voyage.
I happened to watch this film in a roundabout way. I’d started off watching a completely different film (although—like A Lively Voyage—also Russian): Andrei Rublev, an ‘essential film’, a classic about the 15th century iconist. After half an hour of watching that, I decided it was too much. Perhaps I was just not in the right mood; perhaps the combination of disconnected episodes, a bad print, and the fact that I have been under a lot of stress lately—perhaps all of that contributed. I junked Andrei Rublev and looked around for other films among my bookmarks. I found this one, recommended by a blog reader, who had also very kindly sent me a link to a subtitled version.
A Lively Voyage begins tamely enough. Shuleykin (Evgeniy Leonov) finds himself in a tropical port at the other end of the world, and desperate to get back home to Odessa. He’s so desperate that he will take on any work on any ship heading for Russia—as long as he can come home. Fortunately, he has found an agent (Nikolay Volkov) who assures Shuleykin that he can get Shuleykin a job on a ship.
Years ago, when I was a child, Bronenosets Potyomkin (The Battleship Potemkin) was shown on television. I must have been about 10, perhaps 11—but no more than that. Five minutes into the film and I got bored of the grainy, jerky picture (this was an unrestored version) and the lack of dialogue. A silent film? And that too about a mutiny? Um, no.
For some 25 odd years, that remained my only memory of Bronenosets Potyomkin, even long after I’d discovered that it’s regarded as a sort of cult classic.
An omission, I realised, that needed correction. It was time to dust off Sergei Eisenstein’s magnum opus and see what it was really about.