director Georgiy Daneliya
I can’t recall how Kin-dza-dza! got on my radar, but I’m glad that it did. I’ve been interested in Russian/Soviet genre film, the kind that hasn’t really been exported as World Cinema.
This Soviet Era science fiction comedy is a strange and interesting picture. Absurdist humor abounds throughout Kin-dza-dza!, clearly satirizing aspects of Soviet life, though also transcendentally, society and humanity in general.
The story takes two strangers, Stanislav Lyubshin, a Russian construction foreman, and Levan Gabriadze, a Georgian student, who get accidentally transported off the Moscow streets to a desert planet of Pluke in the Kin-dza-dza galaxy. Here they find a derelict world where water is scarce (and used as fuel), with complicated social structure endowing some people with heightened status who must be paid tribute, where all words can be said as “koo” or sometimes have different words that mean different things, and in which a box of matches is their most enriching possession. People of Pluke are conniving and silly, and can read the thoughts of the Earthmen.
The film is funny and unusual, and right away I wanted to know more about it. It’s apparently very popular and well-known in Russia (an animated re-make was done by director Georgiy Daneliya only a couple years ago). John A. Riley at Electric Sheep delves into more of the intricacies of the word play and cultural significance.
It’s definitely a little over-long, but otherwise, I really liked it.