Про уродов и людей
Johann and his assistants specialize in the fabrication of photographs depicting the floggings of bare-bottomed women. Handsome and secretive, Johann and his creations begin to penetrate the peaceful households of both successful railroad engineer Radlov and the famous clinical physician Stasov.
Radlov's daughter Lisa is a beautiful young woman who watches trains and dreams of heading for the West. Her innocence is stained by her fetish for Johann's photos. Her worries are centered around the maid Grunya: her widower father's mistress and Johann's secret accomplice.
Doctor Stasov lives in bliss with his beautiful blind wife, Ekaterina Kirillovna. Their days are spent listening to the angelic singing voices of their adopted teenaged Siamese twin boys, attached at the hip and of Mongolian origin. But Johann has made his way into this household, too: the maid holds his photos close to her bosom.
Intense and unpredictable, Johann is planning to exploit his artistic floggings through a new technique called "cinematography." He has his eyes on Lisa. Deeply in love with her in his own psychotic way ...
OF FREAKS AND MEN is a haunting melodrama of hidden passions and sado-masochistic urges. A bizarre tale in which manipulation and revenge rule amidst the charm, innocence and perversion of days gone by.
Russian director Alexei Balabanov's PRO OURODOV I LIOUDIEI (Of Freaks and Men) is a bizarre tale of fantasy and eroticism set in turn-of-the-century St Petersburg - a time when the recently arrived art of cinematography was the talk of cafe and salon alike.
The story centres on two well-to-do families whose lives are linked by the diabolical Johann (Sergei Makovetsky), who has a thriving business as the supplier of erotic S&M photos featuring bare-bottomed women. One of his infatuated admirers is the maid in the service of a doctor and his beautiful but blind wife, while another from the household of rich engineer Radlov is his willing accomplice. Johann, however, only has eyes for Radlov's nubile daughter, Lisa (played by Dinara Drukarova).
Johann's henchman (Victor Sukhorukov), meanwhile, creeps between the two houses distributing the pornographic photos and developing his own lust for the illicit - in this case, with a pair of Mongolian Siamese twins adopted by the doctor and his wife.
Some years ago, I discovered some old erotic photographs which I had never seen before. They seized me. They had such a powerful esthetic. And they happened to be of floggings ... Flogging was probably the most popular perversion of the 19th Century. lt does seem logical, since corporal punishment was so widespread in those days. When a child is being spanked, blood rushes to the buttocks, an erotic area. As adults, some try to relive those childhood memories. The reasoning is practically scientific.
My film, however, is not about sadomasochism. I am telling a human story. This is a bright film, or at least I wanted it to be. Not just a specialized "festival film," but a film for all spectators.
Before studying film in Moscow, Balabanov served in his country's Air Force. As a military interpreter, he travelled extensively in Africa and the Middle East. He later worked a s an assistant director at the Sverdlovsk Film Studios for several years, leading to his making two documentaries. His first feature fiction film, SCHASTLIVIJE DNY (HAPPY DAYS), was presented in Un Certain Regard at Cannes in 1992.
Balabanov is married with two children and lives in St. Petersburg.
19 8 9 YEGOR AND NASTYA, doc.
1990 FROM THE HISTORY OF AEROSTATICS IN RUSSIA, doc.
19 9 2 SCHASTLIVIJE DNY (HAPPY DAYS)
1 994 ZAMOK (THE CASTLE)
19 9 5 TROFIM, short
1997 BRAT (BROTHER)
Cast & Crew
Directed by: Alexei Balabanov
Written by: Alexei Balabanov
Produced by: Sergei Selyanov, Oleg Botogov
Cinematography: Sergei Astakhov
Editing: Marina Lipartia
Production Design: Vera Zelinskaya
Costume Design: Nadya Vasilyeva
Make-Up & Hair: Tamara Frid
Cast: Sergei Makovetsky (Johann), Victor Sukhorukov (Victor Ivanovich), Lika Nevolina (Ekaterina Kirillovna), Dinara Drukarova (Lisa)
Nominations and Awards
- European Actress 1998
- Feature Film Selection 1998