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Through the Black Glass

original title: Skvoz chernoe steklo

2019, 139 min., color, Russian

CATEGORY : Drama
COUNTRY: Russia
PRODUCTION : BUDGET : 900 000 euro

CAST

Maxim Sukhanov, Vasilisa Denisova, Nadezhda Markina

CREW

Director : Screenplay : Konstantin Lopushanskiy
Cinematographer : Dmitry Mass
Producers : Andrei Sigle
Poster

COMMENTS

Director’s NOTE

“Through the Black Glass” is a genre film — but which genre? It might be considered: 1) a tragic melodrama; 2) a contemporary reworking of the classic story of Cinderella; or 3) a religious drama distantly reminiscent of the conceptual conflicts in Fyodor Dostoevsky’s short  story, “A Gentle Spirit,” which centers around the collision of two world views — religious and atheist — in the post-Soviet Russian world. (The events in the film take place during the year 2000, a period with its own particular characteristics).

The last possibility seems the most interesting to me and suits my predilections as a director. But this does not preclude detailed explications of the other two genres, especially the melodrama, since without them the film won’t have the emotional tone needed for viewers to empathize. This strikes me as essential with this film, since it will appeal to a particular demographic, mostly young people. Ultimately, it is a love story. So the choice of music, the rhythm of the edit and structure of the film — and, of course, the casting — are of crucial importance.

I should like to emphasize several points. For the female lead, the actress must have a good sense and understanding of the special world of the church and monastic life, its characteristics and habits that must be unconscious and be revealed by the actress in small gestures, movements, the nature of her reactions and in the embodiment of the character. For Ostrovsky it’s very important not to make him an out-and-out scoundrel. It’s important to sense the scale of his personality — clearly exceptional but possessed by powerful passions; extremely contradictory, but tragic in his own way. This man is certainly intelligent — in fact, very intelligent — but it is the intelligence of Mephisto: everything he touches inevitably leads him to commit crimes and to descend into spiritual ruin.

There is a great temptation for the director of photography. For the first quarter of the film, the main character is blind, which suggests the creation of a visual analog for the world that she sees with her inner eye. Here there is a danger of straight-forward illustration, which would be inappropriate, of course. I think it would be enough to use this device at the very beginning of the film as a kind of visual statement, and then repeat it in episodes where the transformation is part of the plot, for example, in the scene when she regains her sight in the clinic. Clearly these episodes will require sophisticated CG.

Filming will take place in Russia, mostly in St. Petersburg and environs. Three episodes need to be shot in a Western European city (as yet to be determined).

Film production period: fall-early winter or late winter-early spring.

Finally, I’d like to especially emphasize the overall emotional pitch of the film. The temperature of emotional expression must be close to boiling, as it were. This is, in my view, the key to the successful direction of the film.

SYNOPSIS

GAIN SIGHT WITH MONEY, GO BLIND WITH LOVE

It is a genre film, but which genre? Maybe a modern interpretation of the classic story of Cinderella? But it might be considered as a tragic melodrama or a religious drama, too. It’s vaguely reminiscent of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s short story “A Gentle Spirit” with its conflict of concepts: it centers on the collision of two world views — religious and atheist. Finally, it is a love story, with the emotional temperature close to boiling, even though we all know that a romantic story is one thing, while life is always something different. Alas, in today’s Russia, the story of Cinderella can’t have a happy ending.

PRESS

This story cannot be told in a restrained and tactful way, and I see this as the main stylistic discovery made by Lopushansky: famed for his St. Petersburg good taste, he now decided to abandon it completely. Every good novel or film contains a self-description; in the Through a Black Glass, the oligarch, probably the creepiest role in the career of Maxim Sukhanov, says to the organizers of his future wedding: “I’d like it fatter… I love it when it is fatty…” The whole film is excessive and exaggerated; Lopushansky never looks away, not even when simple charity requires it. As stated by the same character, the air of this film “smells of blood”.
Never before had I saw a Russian film that would fit so perfectly the Zeitgeist, the main emotion of our era. The spectator, facing a phenomenal combination of rich cultural implications and frontal attacks of the crudest kind, never stops vacillating between the feelings of gratitude to the author and almost hatred of him. It does not stop Lopushansky from reaching his goal – to tear the masks, and to make the spectators recover their sight, become horrified and burst into sobs. – Dmitry Bykov, Panorama TV
…Noteworthy is the courage with which Vasilisa Denisova, a debutante, did not only suffer through the psychologically difficult escaping from blindness, but also
Mr.Sukhanov”s pressure (both physical and moral) without having gotten lost in the background of the co-starring might, keeping her acting sameness and natural
responses despite the humiliation suffered by the meek girl from the monster who had, on the other hand, its soft spots. – Lidia Maslova, SEANCE
Remember the title “Through a black glass” It is a new film directed by Konstantine Lopushansky presented during the forum Window into Europe in Vyborg one can only call it a masterpiece. The script appeared to be a regular soap opera: an oligarch offers surgery to a blind, angelically beautiful girl under the condition that she will
marry him having never seen the bridegroom. On the outside, it is a delicate and precise psychological melodrama with a brilliant script by the director himself, shot by cameraman Dmitry Mass, and excellent performing by Maxim Sukhanov and Vasilisa Denisova for who it was her first movie role. However, the internal essence it is a
portrait of Russian Capitalism, senseless and callous. – Leonid Pavlyuchik, a critic, Teatral
Maxim Sukhanov plays the part of a wealthy guy enabling am orphaned blind girl (Vasilisa Denisova) to see – in exchange for marrying him. Professional opinions varied between”great” and “nothing special”, but in any case it is obvious that this film (like any other shot by that director, one of the few who has every right to the title of “cult”) is definitely worth watching. – Stanislav Rostotsky, Kommersant