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: Mosfilm studio backlot  ( 1712 )
Juan Miranda
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« : March 17, 2010, 08:54:03 PM »



I've recently been digitising some of my photo archive. The scanner I bought to do this has turned out to be utterly wreched with colour negatives, but using paint Shop Pro is rather better with black and white. Here's a selection of shots I took on a visit to Mosfilm Studios, in south Moscow. They were probably shot in January or February 1994, certainly in the winter of 1993-1994. At that time the Russian economy was in freefall with frightening inflation, putting a halt on anything as frivolous as film making.



An air of gloom hung over the place, and out in the backlot I found this huge, abandoned film set. Like a frozen equivalent of Pompeii some of it was buried under months of snow with a few intriguing structures still visible.



Was this Venice or Saint Petersburg (which up till the year before had still been called Leningrad), cities who's architecture owes more to Constantinople and the Orient than ancient Greece and Rome? One distincly Roman looking building didn't seem to belong to rest and may have been used for another film, and to this day I haven't seen the movie any of these building were so expensivly constructed for.



Some were still strong enough to go inside where there were rooms which must have once housed interior sets with views of the towers, bridges and canals.



The delapidation was such that clearly they had stood here for a couple of winters at least, a relic from the last days of Soviet movie production.



At the time I wandered round the backlot quite blithely but looking back now it was a bit of a stupid thing to do. Nobody knew I was there, the place was utterly abandoned and there were several deep pits that I could have tumbled down, and those were just the ones I could see in the snow which was easily six foot deep in places. A night trapped down one of those and I'd have been a goner and probably not found until the thaw began in March (like a certain western (or horror) film bad guy)... Still, some of them have since been exhibited in UK galleries as part of my portfolio of my time in Moscow TOMORROW CITY.



The Mosfilm Studios logo was a small model of Vera Mukhina's massive, stainless steel skinned sculpture WORKER AND COLLECTIVE FARM GIRL, built for the 1937 World's Fair in Paris, just as The Terror was juddering into life. It would go head to head with Nazi sculptures by Albert Speer in the opposit German Pavilion in a battle of totalitarian art



The sculpure was later shifted to a bleak corner of VDNKh (the Exhibition of Achievements of the National Economy), a large Moscow park, and I walked past it nearly every day on my way to and from VGIK where I was studying cinematography. A few years ago the sculpture was taken down for restoration, a project which seems to have no end, having already several times run out of the will or money to complete.



All black and white photos are copyright by John Rankin, AKA Juan Miranda


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« #1 : March 18, 2010, 05:18:49 AM »

Very nice. I'd be interested to know if any of those sets can be identified in particular films. Just off the top of your head, if you happen to know.



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« #2 : March 18, 2010, 11:31:01 AM »

Very nice. I'd be interested to know if any of those sets can be identified in particular films.

Wish I did but no, I've never found that info. For every 1 Soviet era movie that made it to the west there scores of others that never did (and having seen a fair few it was a question of quality not politics).

However one image I scanned recently answered my own question as to where the set is supposed to be:



Those oddly shaped chimnies are pretty much unique to the Veneto, so Venice it was.












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« #3 : March 18, 2010, 11:33:42 AM »


Thanks for sharing. O0

Say, a Scotsman in Moscow, ain't that a peculiar little situation? :)




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