Then there's this:Armed with total creative control, [Khrzhanovsky] invaded a Ukrainian city, marshaled a cast of thousands and thousands, and constructed a totalitarian society in which the cameras are always rolling and the actors never go home
Khrzhanovsky asked the actors to live on set for greater realism ...The project became an experiment in recreating the Soviet Union. You were only admitted on the set if you were dressed in Soviet era clothes. At the entrance, extras dressed as KGB guards took away your money and mobile phone. Loudspeakers blasted Soviet era propaganda. A newspaper produced Soviet news. There was a Soviet hairdresser and a Soviet cafeteria. Real scientists performed real experiments on real animals. When Khrzhanovsky wanted to cause some trouble, he would have one actor report on another to the re-created secret services. The KGB would make arrests...Those who took part in the project [said] it immersed them in an odd state where you couldn’t tell the difference between the present, your day dreams and the past.
Unbelievable are the lengths that the production has gone to create a believable set for Dau, with insane obsession over details like the pipe-width of the toilets, expiration dates on food wrappers, paperwork required to get on and off set, and more. Of course, don’t actually call it a set! The intrigue doesn’t end there, as Khrzhanovsky is also probably fucking a lot of his cast members, and there’s a bizarre cult factor to the whole endeavor, with people moving themselves and their families to the city that houses the set, and abandoning other careers and pursuits to join on.
...For a scene set at the airport, which involved a giant fake plane and required covering the tarmac with 800 tons of mud, he got the airport closed outright: the city of 1,400,000 didn’t accept inbound flights for a full day. Kharkov also allowed Khrzhanovsky to empty out and redecorate two miles of its main drag, to build a large street set on rooftops (in order to achieve a clearer horizon line – remember, no CGI) and to sheath its radio tower in a 70-foot plywood sword.
The only acting professional in the cast was Radmila Schogoleva, who would play Dau’s wife Nora; before the shooting began, she spent a full year working at a chocolate factory and a hospital, a regimen devised by Khrzhanovsky to beat the actress out of her.
For the title role, Khrzhanovsky had one stipulation: it had to be played by an actual genius, regardless of the discipline... He ended up casting Teodor Currentzis, a lushly maned, 38-year-old pinup of a classical conductor.
Professional extras didn’t suit him; instead, a team 25 photographers roamed the streets of three cities looking for good faces. Their efforts resulted in a database of 210,000 candidates. In Kharkov alone, they photographed 160,000 people, every ninth resident of the city. The best of those were then processed through wardrobe and makeup, assigned a costume, and represented by six-inch photo cutouts. Thus, in assembling crowd scenes, Khrzhanovsky could literally play with hundreds of dress-up dolls, arranging them in deliberate color patterns (blue coats to violet to red, that sort of thing). Then his assistants would call up the living version of each doll and arrange them the same way in the shot.
Here's what a journalist visiting "the film set" had to report:
According to a glossary of forbidden terms posted right in front of me on the wall, the set is to be referred to as the Institute. Likewise, inside the Institute, there are no scenes, just experiments. No shooting, only documentation. And there is certainly no director. Instead, Ilya Khrzhanovsky, the man responsible for this madness, is to be referred to as the Head of the Institute or simply the Boss...Khrzhanovsky came up with the idea of the Institute not long after preproduction on Dau began. He wanted a space where he could elicit the needed emotions from his cast in controlled conditions, twenty-four hours a day. The set would be a panopticon. Microphones would hide in lighting fixtures (as they would in many a lamp in Stalin's USSR), allowing Khrzhanovsky to shoot with multiple film cameras from practically anywhere—through windows, skylights, and two-way mirrors.
The set is roughly the size of two football fields, surrounded by a five-story fantasia of oppressive architecture. One edifice, a woozy take on Lenin's tomb, has an irregular ziggurat leading up to it. A coliseum-like stadium looms over two drab residential buildings. Atonal cello music squalls across the city, issuing from pole-mounted loudspeakers. The sole purpose of it seems to be to make one tense, uncomfortable, on edge...Within the walls of the set, for the 300 people working on the project—including the fifty or so who live in costume, in character—there is no difference between "on" and "off."
...Because you were not supposed to admit that the film shoot was in fact a film shoot. Instead, everyone was operating under the notion that it's the '50s. That day it was 1952. So I needed to be made into a 1952 version of myself. They took away my clothes. They gave me a new haircut with, like, temples shaved off and gave me an incredibly itchy period suit - including the underwear.The one thing I was allowed to keep was my watch. I had a vintage watch from 1959 and after a pretty intense discussion they decided it was OK to let me keep this watch from the future...A few moments later we reach a passageway between worlds: the door connecting the film's modern production offices, where people are free to eat junk food and peck at laptops, with the time warp of the Institute. A silent guard observes my typewritten pass bearing the Soviet hammer and sickle and date-stamped April 28, 1952. Another frisks Khrzhanovsky, without betraying any deference or even recognition. After a security wand roughly passes over my back—a cell phone; sorry, can't have that inside—I finally step through the door and onto the set. I've heard the tales and seen some pictures. I still gasp.Before me is an entire city, built to scale, open to the elements, and—at 1 a.m. and with no camera in sight—fully populated...Atonal cello music squalls across the city, issuing from pole-mounted loudspeakers. The sole purpose of it seems to be to make one tense, uncomfortable, on edge.
"Are you going to augment the city with CGI later?" I ask, just to ask something.
Khrzhanovsky jumps in place and winces. "See, if one of the guards heard you, he would fine me a thousand hryvnias [about $125]," he says. "Because you're my guest. It doesn't matter that I am the boss. I get frisked like everyone else. You can't use words that have no meaning in this world."
The fine system is the Institute's latest innovation. Khrzhanovsky decreed it a few months ago, fed up with staffers smuggling cell phones and talking about Facebook. Other finable offenses include tardiness, which costs a whole day's pay, and failure to renew the fake Institute pass. The program has been a hit. Not only has morale improved, a whole new euphemistic vocabulary has sprouted up. ("Google" is now "Pravda," as in "Pravda it.") The fine system has also fostered a robust culture of snitching. "In a totalitarian regime, mechanisms of suppression trigger mechanisms of betrayal," the director explains. "I am very interested in that."
Read more about the madness here:
http://www.gq.com/story/movie-set-that- ... table=true
http://michaelidov.tumblr.com/post/1216 ... u-outtakes
http://www.npr.org/2014/12/12/370331816 ... nding-film
So, what do you guys think? Will it be the masterpiece to top all else?