russianchat

videopodcast for learning Russian

Intermediate Mid / A Foreigner in Red Moscow

Posted on August 11th, 2019

Watch an excerpt of Soviet animation film "Баня" (The Bathhouse) based on Vladimir Mayakovsky play, Soyuzmultfilm studio,1962. The cartoon artfully combines Mayakovsky's  oratorical and slogan-like manner of recitation with his unexpected imagery, vivid colors and fantastic distortions in visual arts.

In 1930, the Meyerhold production of the play, which was seen not as a piece of Soviet humor but as an assault on Soviet bureaucracy, was withdrawn. In the Khrushchev thaw, the play was successfully revived in Moscow, and has been in the Satire Theater repertory ever since. The word баня (not once mentioned in the play) is a traditional symbol for backwardness and dirt. The inventor of a fantastic deus ex machina Чудаков (name suggests his freakishness) alone is working for the future. Then  the  Phosphorescent Woman appears out of the future in order to select suitable candidates for the commune
that will exist in 100 years time.

The cartoon also shows the examples of Maykovsky's collaborative projects with avant-garde designer Alexander Rodchenko. As a stimulating leader in art, poetry and ideas, Mayakovsky worked in  “slogan art” for the propaganda department of the Russian Telegraph Agency, and composed jingles for Mosselprom, the state retail organization. In the 1920s, there was competition between state department stores and private commerce, state- and co-operative groceries and marketplace, domestic production and imports. The  Mosselprom hired Vladimir Mayakovsky and Alexander Rodchenko for its campaign. Mayakovsky coined the slogan: “You need no more/ than the Mosselprom store.” (Нигде кроме как в Моссельпроме! Nowhere but in Mosselprom!). The largest department store, GUM (in the Red Square, just opposite the Kremlin), also launched a campaign aimed at the visitors arriving to the Red Capital. Among other examples of posters seen in the animated video is the poster to promote the sale of Резинотрест (The Rubber Trust) production -- Pacifiers ad, to promote the sale of pacifiers.