What to watch now: The Russian drama is a cautionary tale of being engulfed in pride | Berkshire landscapes

dead mountain

The investigation in “Dead Mountain” centers on Major Oleg Kostin (Pyotr Fyodorov), a World War II veteran, whose efforts to find the cause of death plunge him back into his own past as he attempts to cross the strange culture of the Urals. .

‘Dead Mountain’ (Subject)

The terrible incident at the Dyatlov Pass in the Ural Mountains in 1959, in which a group of nine Soviet student hikers were found dead, has inspired much legend and mystery in Russia over the decades, and theories conspiracies designed to explain it have seeped into the world as well. Conspiracy theories generally reject the idea that the simplest explanation is the most likely and sometimes add a paranormal element to illustrate why any recognized authoritative establishment is unable, perhaps grimly, to convey the “true” truth. .

It is in part this dynamic that the Russian television production “Dead Mountain” exemplifies, but in doing so it does not allow the incident to become the property of the global community. Instead, he wraps it in a Soviet sensibility that is subversive in the best possible sense, celebrating the unfortunate victims of tragedy as an example of Soviet audacity while blaming the propaganda-soaked system that brought them to life. at the moment.

The series is told in alternating storylines, the first involving a color KGB investigation into the tragedy, the second a black-and-white account of hikers on their way to their destiny. It’s the contrast between the two that reveals the underpinnings of the critique, the full reality of the investigative narrative literally collapsing onto the drama of the more enthusiastic rambling.

The investigation centers on Major Oleg Kostin (Pyotr Fyodorov), a World War II veteran, whose efforts to find the cause of death plunge him back into his own past as he attempts to navigate the strange culture from the Urals. His own past appears to the viewer in flashbacks, recounting his military years during the war, moving to Germany, and encountering a series of bizarre and terrible traumas that slowly hammer him. The investigation puts him in a situation where he must face the only ghost he tried to silence.

The rambling segments, on the other hand, are made through old Soviet cinema styles populated by more naive characters who seem to see the universe in the same black and white as the film they inhabit. Often cheerful, this troop of students trots through the wilderness, as if the world is their oyster thanks to the state-sanctioned optimism that saturates their everyday experience. They are innocent people and this is how they experience the world.

The colored segments depict a much different world, much less cloistered. Kostin’s flashbacks show an ugly, harsh world beyond you with its drenched color, filled with death, grief, and uncontrollable horrors. Situations in its current era reveal all sorts of routine secrets and are set within Soviet systems that create an invisible barrier protecting its citizens from reality. Deception and the desire to keep dark reality at bay become the standard way of life.

But this is also the world the hikers lived in and their exuberance, which translates into an inability to recognize a situation they are unprepared for, reflects the cloistered lives of citizens looking towards a very bright Soviet future. They are the future and they know no mandate against their destiny.

Unfortunately, they find out where they were headed too late and it makes for one of the most brutal and terrifying hours of television I’ve ever seen. And one of the most beautifully done.

One of the more unexpected pleasures of the series is that if you’re a Soviet photography geek – which I am – you’ll appreciate the duplication of styles, textures and colors taken from the release of Soviet cameras and lenses. classics. Used in such a way as to propel not just political criticism, but heart-rending damage to any given human being, it’s a successful example of the style further bolstering the substance.

“Dead Mountain” becomes a cautionary tale of being engulfed in pride, but not of your own making. Secrets and lies have a way of manifesting themselves as poltergeists and those who have breathed in an atmosphere of soothing nationalism like that of the Soviet Union can be blind to sudden attacks. Innocence and optimism become its victims, while those who have survived the nightmares of reality are doomed to be tortured by it throughout their lives.

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