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An adaptation of the cult novel by Ilya Ilf and Yevgeny Petrov including unpublished scenes that fell prey to Soviet censors. One of Russia's most popular actors, Oleg Menshikov, plays ... See full summary »
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2005  

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Oleg Menshikov ...  Ostap Bender unknown episodes
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An adaptation of the cult novel by Ilya Ilf and Yevgeny Petrov including unpublished scenes that fell prey to Soviet censors. One of Russia's most popular actors, Oleg Menshikov, plays Ostap Bender, the renowned con-man and charming swindler. This tale of Bender's attempts to bilk the secret millionaire Koreiko unfolds against the backdrop the vibrant life of the 1920's. This adaptation of the Soviet literary classic boasts colorful characters, risky adventures, and the anything goes atmosphere of the past. Written by Pavel P.

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tv mini series | See All (1) »

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Comedy

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Country:

Russia

Language:

Russian

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2005 (Russia) See more »

Also Known As:

Aranyborjú See more »

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Dolby Digital

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Color

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1.78 : 1
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Connections

Version of Mechty idiota (1993) See more »

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User Reviews

Delightful, Faithful and Recommended … With a Few Cautions
12 November 2011 | by DMSpencerSee all my reviews

I'm not a Russian speaker, though I love the Ilf & Petrov novels (THE TWELVE CHAIRS and THE {LITTLE} GOLDEN CALF); and I'm a relative newcomer to seeing their works translated to film … though by now I've seen a good number, most not known in the West, thus very few with subtitles. And this miniseries is among those without.

I don't agree with the previous reviewers about the miniseries' quality -- I'm quite fond of it -- but this much is indeed true: It would be hard-to-impossible to know what's going on if you haven't read the book, while it's easy if you know it (easier still if it's fresh in your memory). And indeed, the 1968 black & white film version is a masterpiece (and one for which you can find an online version with excellent subtitles {primarily drawn from the 1932 Charles Malamuth translation}, which can be viewed online or grabbed off the net, subtitles and all, in two AVI files).

This miniseries may not quite be a masterpiece, but I'm loath to compare it to the '68 version in that context, because each was created for a different medium, venue and purpose. While the '68 version's mandate was to coherently compress the novel into a feature film (albeit a long one; split into two parts), the miniseries' mandate is clearly to dramatize the entire novel, in fine detail. It moves at the occasionally measured pace of an extended miniseries, which may be why other reviewers are failing to find it dynamic, but I'm about halfway through it and finding it terribly interesting and very satisfying. True, it doesn't quite have the hard, satirical edge of the Ilf/Petrov prose -- but then again, it can't, because sans actual narration, that conspiracy-with-the-reader/viewer tone won't sustain over a long haul without becoming exhausting and precious. So the creative team here are instead delivering an illusion of "faithful realism": a kitchen-sink approach, but one in which the characters are absolutely accurately drawn; it's handled with a light touch but comedy and drama maintain a balance throughout. (Though there *are* flashes of pointed satirical "commentary": occasional cameo animated sequences that assume some of the back-story and sidebar information. It's a wonderful concept, handled playfully.) As to the casting: I'm finding it to be excellent. There's not an actor or an interpretation that doesn't sit well with my impression of acceptable representation.

It bears to keep in mind that for Russians and those who speak the language fluidly, the novels of Ilf & Petrov are (deservingly) iconic and cherished; and that regard can engender, in some, a proprietary feeling about how the stories and characters are recreated/interpreted on film and on stage. But I think if you're open to a new millennium sensibility in the filmmaking and performance, you may find this CALF to be … well … golden …


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