“Russia has destroyed Putin”

Konchalovsky’s Studio is located in the former house of culture of the Soviet party newspaper “Pravda” on the Moscow Pravda street. A coincidence, not without irony. For Konchalovsky — this is the man who does not believe in any truth and a low opinion of political beliefs. In Soviet times it was considered inconvenient. He is 79 years old and he’s from a famous artistic family. His father, Sergei Mikhalkov, wrote by order of Stalin the text of the national anthem, his brother — the film Director Nikita Mikhalkov, winner of the award “Oscar”. Konchalovsky, who bears the name of his mother, 80 years made films in Hollywood, and later lived in Italy and France. It took exactly 30 movies, written about the same scenarios, besides staged operas and performances in Paris, Milan and new York. For his new film “Paradise” Konchalovsky received at the film festival in Venice in 2016, the award “Silver lion”. “Paradise” was also included in the shortlist of candidates for the award “Oscar” for best foreign language film. It is a work about the war, which caused controversy, as so often with films of Konchalovsky and his views on the situation in Russia. And this German-Russian co-production, the shooting took place near Nuremberg. “Paradise” will be screened in Germany from July 27.

SPIEGEL: Andrey, Your new film is called “Paradise”. In this case we are talking about the fate of three people in the war, all three are killed, the German SS officer, a French gendarme and living in France, a Russian aristocrat who rescues two Jewish children. Large part of the story takes place in a concentration camp. You said that it is still a film not about the Holocaust, and the temptation of evil. About how people want to create your own Paradise. What do You understand by this?

Andrei Konchalovsky: When I thought about what should be my character in the film, an SS officer Helmut…

—… aristocratic idealist who quotes Tolstoy and Chekhov, and on the orders of Heinrich Himmler must uncover the corruption among the leadership of the concentration camps…

— I imagined that he must be some kind of angel. It needs to be so compelling, so gorgeous, everything he says sounds like the truth. This leads to greater duality, which I wanted to Express in this film. Because Helmut is nevertheless a convinced Nazi, national socialism inspires him. I didn’t want to make the viewer easily identify the evil and falsehood of Nazism. To show the evil of the Nazis is boring. It is so often made that it is unbearable. In addition, I want to trust the viewer to make their own conclusions. When the audience come out after watching my movies, they don’t know exactly what happened. They are confused, and this confusion is important to me. Global evil is never simple, it is very complicated.

And thus it even harder to move on the screen.

— In this case, the evil luring, it became clear for me when the movie was ready. It is a great illusion when I think that the Director can carry out the idea, which he first invented. Fellini once said that the most crucial moment comes to the end of the shoot, when the assembling is, this is the time when your film looks you straight in the eye.

— You, with great difficulty, decided to Paradise. Why?

— If you think about common, public perception, then it will be simply impossible to shoot another film about the Holocaust. One of today’s challenges is the shortening of memory. Young people don’t know anything anymore, everything is on the Internet. On the other hand, too much information leads to vulgarization. The Holocaust? We already know that, according to many. So I should remove so that people are not told that they had already seen the Spielberg. Authentic life in the concentration camp I was shown only for seven minutes.

Is a black — and-white film with long monologues. Perhaps in the era of blockbusters that work?

— In Russia I am in a happy situation, because I don’t have to think about the hire. When I lived in America, it was different.

Russian critics complain that in Your film there is no catharsis, no spiritual purification. This confusion is probably connected with how You show this German SS officer.

I love his characters, I love Helmut. Because people love not because he is good. You love him and don’t know why. But you suffer when he does the wrong things. I make films for those people who now no longer go to the movies more, I want to bring them back. This movie is for parents not for children. So I wrote an explanation that no one needs to come to my movies with popcorn. And people sit there without popcorn. This is an interesting filter.

— Also a Russian aristocrat Olga, played by Your wife Julia Vysotskaya, many confusing. She sits in the camp and hugged SS officer because he wants to save her. She tells him that he is the representative of the people, the greatness which gives him the right to any cruelty. It’s an evil phrase.

— This is the lowest tier, which fell this woman. She then realizes what she said. And here, too, there is this duality: we never know what we believe today or tomorrow. One illusion after another.

— In Russia, just show the film “Sobibor” with Christopher Lambert. It is about a Soviet officer who organizes a mass escape from the death camp of Sobibor. He remains the “winner in the unequal fight with the Nazi machine of destruction,” reads the ad copy, because with him, they say, the truth, and with the Nazis is a lie. It is a common opinion in Russia about this time?

Is a simple vulgarization. Russia is peculiar duality of thinking. We — as a nation, the majority of people we have living in the stone age, but are at the same time, iPhones. As for our system of values in Europe, we are in XI or XII century, when there was no bourgeoisie, were not citizens. This was written by Marx. For example, we never had ownership. When a man nothing that he should protect or can sell, he can’t understand what a market economy. Therefore, a can not understand Russian Germans and Vice versa: there are different system of priorities. In addition, the Russian way of thinking is Manichean: there is only light and darkness, black or white — it’s one of the reasons of crisis development of our society. Dialogue between left and right in Russia never lead to reconciliation or harmony.

— You say that “Paradise” originated at a time when Russia was under pressure. And therefore, they say, is good, if the Germans see the film, which will be able to explain something about Russia. In the first place?

— That we not only do tanks, but grown roses. And we can do a serious movie.

In Your last movie it was only about Russia. In “White nights postman Alexei Trapezina” You show the village, which is no more produced. Shows you the alcohol, duped TV, corruption and people who talk just for the rude slang. Many took it as a humiliation of Russia.

I don’t see in my movie humiliation of Russia. There’s just shows the life of people I love and that, no matter how it was strange, not suffer. There’s a heroine who wants to go to the city. And this too is an expression of a sort of archaic Russian, the Russian world. What these people there might harm Western sanctions? Funny, they are all my life living there under sanctions. They do not run around in search of French Camembert, because he suddenly disappeared from the shelves. I was critical of the film about the Russian province, because I was once again convinced that Russian — the incredible power of endurance.

With government You have little things.

— Our people never participate in the leadership of the country and never learned to host. The state cannot compel the Russians to anything. Yes, the West will impose sanctions, then the people once it becomes Patriotic. The war begins, then we all immediately rally. But when there is no war, then the national idea spreads.

In one statement You said that in Your country everything is possible, in addition to reforms.

— I mean successful reforms. We haven’t solved the Russian cultural code, to me German is more understandable than ours. Russian is a peasant, German born or the house, or the bourgeois, he is involved in public Affairs. The peasant — absolutely other qualities, he’s always hostile towards the state, because it had always something to take away. The West is unable to understand it. The CIA thought in the 90 years that we have it comes to food riots. Complete nonsense. In Russia there can be no food riots, because Russian always ready to hunger. Their patience so great, that they can survive the injustice.

While longing for excess.

— Dostoevsky said: Russian man or beast or angel. If he does not believe in God, it can become a vicious animal. Almost no one understands it, even it is hard for us to comprehend.

Whether, in Your opinion, Putin is the man who is now needed by the Russian people?

— Many say that Putin has supposedly destroyed Russia. No, on the contrary: Russia has destroyed Putin. Initially he was Pro-Western, but when he saw us this situation… It was like he had to constantly keep moving tectonic fees to avoid the earthquake. Putin hears tectonics, he hears mass. But, like any Russian ruler, it is difficult to lead the state, the population which has no ideas about democracy, which does not participate in the leadership of the country and which according to unwavering traditions, voluntarily delegates all power to one man only. And which then expects that the government will take care of itself, however, does nothing. Our historian Vladimir Buldakov said that liberals supposedly don’t understand what the Russian people creates exactly the power that corresponds to their ideas about power.

— It is believed that Russians are not warlike, but the current Patriotic mood confusing. According to one survey, 86% believe that the world is supposedly afraid of Russia. And 75% think it is good. Do You think that is good?

— That the world is afraid of Russia, not to blame Russian. The West is putting pressure on us and the coup in Ukraine was done from the outside. Today’s world order is in the interests of America.

Let’s not argue now about Ukraine.

— Why not bet? I’ll give you just one quote from one article of the former Czech President, václav Klaus, the current situation provoked by Western Europe and the United States, they wanted confrontation with Russia and used Ukraine as a poor tool. Putin has not provoked the situation.

Christmas is a very controversial person and is not objective.

— It is a conflict of two civilizations. Between two very different worlds all the time there is hostility. Western people will always be afraid of the Russian, even if you fear it will have nothing. But then he would drink vodka with him, and all will be well.

You live partly in France and in Italy. And say, in Europe things are bad. That, say, a shameless imitation of democracy, political correctness, multiculturalism affect the decline of Europe. It sounds very apocalyptic. Tell me, from the Russian point of view, that bad?

— If we don’t want to remember the book of Spengler’s “decline of the Western world”, even Pope Francis says that in Europe there is no longer any new ideas. It is a tragedy, it is a comical way connected to the fact that there is no shortage. When a person in material terms, and he feels completely free, then he is gradually becoming intellectual animals. Increasing productivity has become an obsession — as well as the absolutization of human rights. When human rights are valued higher than his duty, it destroys the citizen and ultimately the state. Germans is not going to happen, they know their responsibilities, where the government works. But the Italians, Spaniards or Greeks? Universal human rights is an illusion, the Bolshevik idea. Just like multiculturalism, different cultures develop at different speeds.

— Do you think that a United Europe is an illusion?

A huge illusion. I expect some revival of the national spirit in European countries. In Europe, I bet on Germany, You, from my point of view, there is the important philosophical nation.

— Back again to Your movie “Ray”. This is a joint Russian-German production. From this film, You are left with the sense that, say, the Germans have serious mental problems. Could You explain this in more detail?

— They are afraid to say that they — the Germans. They are afraid to be proud of their country. Yes, life in Germany was a tragic period. But since then, has grown for three generations that has nothing to do with national socialism. Why should they not proud of their country? “A German patriot” sounds, however, according to many politically correct idiots, a bit like “fascist”. Where is this fear? Political correctness is killing everyone in Europe.

There are enough countries that the word “fascism” is still used as a club when in Germany do not like. For example, Poland and of course Russia, which accuses the Germans that they supposedly supported the fascist regime in Kiev.

Here political correctness becomes a tool of demagoguery. However, the demagogue is a weapon of mediocrity. By the way, while filming in Germany I had the feeling that East Germans are more likely to play the role of the Nazis than the West Germans. For example, I didn’t have anyone for the role of Himmler, I found no one. Perhaps the West Germans because of their upbringing, the guilt heavier than the Eastern?

— There are West Germans who played Himmler, for example, Ulrich Neten (Ulrich Noethen) in the “Bunker”. But it’s true: the GDR in his self-perception was an anti-fascist government, and the East Germans had long hammered into their heads that they have little in common with the history of the “Third Reich”.

— Again: I feel that the Germans have complexes, which are cultivated artificially. For example. nationalism after the Nuremberg trials identified with national socialism. But it’s not the same thing. The stories were great nationalists. But the nationalist and populist — two words that today are often used as charges. Why should initially be bad if someone says things that people popular? Sorry, in Germany I would not say so. But Russia free from political correctness, sometimes we say the most incredible things.