C новым годом! Happy new year!
Yes, I already did a new years post with a bit of a review of 2022 and hopes for 2023, but the celebration isn’t over just yet.
Some of you will remember from last year, that I keep a tradition of celebrating the new year twice. Once on January 1st with everyone else, and then again on January 14th for ‘Old’ New Year.
Please see last year’s C новым годом! Or Happy New Year! for a little background on старый Новый год (Stary Novy God) and some info about Russian Fairy Tale characters like Morozko (Морозко) and ‘Russian Santa’ Ded Moroz and his daughter/grandaughter Snegurotchka (Дед Мороз и Снегурочка).
Since you’re in the archive anyway, С Рождеством! Merry (Russian Orthodox) Christmas! will also help get you up to speed on why there’s two sets of holidays.
So what does this have to do with irony, fate, and a bath? (not to mention this handsome couple right here).
Well, put quite simply, it’s a movie which a friend recommended I watch, in order to celebrate the new year properly. After a little bit of research, it is apparently a very popular tradition to watch the film The Irony of Fate or Enjoy Your Bath (I’m wondering if the image I found is doctored cause it definitely says ‘you’ bath but my copy is correct and says ‘your’ bath) while waiting for the clock to strike midnight.
So, I gave it a shot.
The whole thing was such a goofy charming experience that I can’t help but think this will become a tradition of mine moving forward. However, I’ll admit that it was pretty hard to get into at first. I was prepared, and even looking forward to the fact that the dialogue, music, and credits were all in Russian (no dubbing but thankfully you can turn on subtitles). But I was not expecting the opening fever dream of strange cartoon tenement buildings marching around to a serious orchestral score. For about ten minutes I wondered if I’d even purchased the right DVD until finally we open on real-life tenements in (assumedly) Moscow.
From there, the film is mostly a comedy (although it does get pretty serious at times) with a goofy premise (man comes home drunk from a visit to the banya (баня) only to find that he’s in an almost identical version of his own home but someone else is living there), and to my surprise, quite a few songs.
It’s my understanding that the movie was intended to be a comedy, and there is plenty of humor baked into the situations and circumstances that the characters find themselves in. However, I think there is also a good amount of humor which can be derived from the time period the film was made (the 1970s). There isn’t much need for ‘effects’ (special or otherwise) but the few that were added were either intentionally bad, or legitimately terrible enough to be laughable. There’s a scene in which one of the characters, foreshadowed early in the movie to be a reckless driver, is driving like a maniac with no logic to what he’s doing other than that it might look cool and confirm he’s an asshole on the road. I was laughing so hard my sides were aching.
Of course, no film is perfect, and this one is probably a little further from perfect than most just by virtue of when it was made. If you haven’t already guessed, the two characters who find themselves ‘victims of circumstance’ and end up in the same apartment end up falling in love, but both have fiancés who they ostensibly love. Each is stricken by guilt at this during different parts of the movie and when the female lead, named Nadya, feels guilty and wants the male lead (Zhenya) to go, he won’t. It sets up some awkward situations in which he is behaving like her fiancé even though he is technically just a stranger. This leads to him kissing her even though she does not want him to etc.
We’re meant to believe it’s ok, because really she loves him, but the whole thing definitely seemed to sit awkwardly to a modern audience. It looks like an American version of the story came out in 2022 called About Fate. I’m definitely curious if the story has been updated at all to fit more modern sensibilities, and whether or not that particular scene is still part of the story.
Finally, there were the songs. This was I think the part of the film I enjoyed the most, as most of them were acoustic guitar and vocals, which is a combo I definitely love. But what made me really take pleasure in listening to them, is that the lyrics sung were a little easier to understand then the constant back-and-forth dialogue of the two leads. I’ve been learning Russian on Duolingo for just under a year (323 days as of this posting), and I was proud that it finally came in handy while attempting to understand each tune.
So . . . Give It a Watch?
Absolutely. As I mentioned above, I will likely try to make this a tradition for myself, but even if you’re not interested in the new year, this movie is still a bit of a treasure and a gem. No matter what language you speak, it’s funny, philosophical, and all around an excellent story.
That’s all I have for now. Have any of you seen this film? Would you like to? What was your favorite part? Leave your replies in the comments section. C новым годом! Happy new year!
Still here? Awesome. I’m glad you enjoyed The Irony of Fate (Ирония судьбы) or Enjoy Your Bath! (или С лёгким паром!)
If you enjoyed this little glimpse into my life and nonsense, you might just want to sign up for my newsletter.
Every quarter I try to share a little bit of myself in the newsletter that doesn’t get shared here on the blog, and it’s also packed with other things like new short fiction I’ve written. This quarter, I’ll be releasing the opening chapter of a novel I’m writing which is a mystery, taking place within a Russian Fairy Tale setting. It should go out on January 16th.
Anyway, thanks for your time, and I hope to see you around here more!