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Interview with Davydova, Nadezhda (2018)

Analysis of Interview with Nadezhda Davydova.
Conducted by David Woods (interviewer) and Benjamin Saine (camera and sound) in July 2018.
Transcribed and translated by Joseph Bistransky, George Barros, Hannah Hampton, Celia Metzger, Kary Stevick and David Woods in Spring 2019.
Analysis written by Joseph Bistransky, George Barros, Hannah Hampton, Celia Metzger, Kary Stevick and David Woods in Fall 2018.

Analytical note

David Woods interviewed Nadezhda Davydova in July, 2018 in St. Petersburg Russia. The interview was transcribed and translated by Joseph Bistransky, George Barros, Hannah Hampton, Celia Metzger, Kary Stevick and David Woods in Spring 2018 as part of the Russian Movie Theater Project.

Nadezda Davydova was born in the Volgograd Oblast in 1983, but spent most of the 1980s and 1990s in Tver, a city on the Volga river. Her parents worked for the Ministry of Internal Affairs. As an economist, her mother worked in the book-keeping unit of the Ministry’s local office while her father worked at the prisons and penal colonies run by the Ministry. Davydova is a linguist-translator. She has lived in Tver, Moscow, and moved to St. Petersburg in the mid-2000s.

As a child, she went to the movie theater in Tver with her parents. The first time she went to the theater was around the time the Soviet Union collapsed. She distinctly remembers watching Mrs. Doubtfire (dir. Chris Columbus 1993) in the small movie theater that was in a neighboring house. There were two movie theaters close to her house, one next door and the other across the bridge, which still exists and is still functioning (4:23). As a child, her favorite genres were comedies, citing the movies of Leonia Gaidai, such as Diamond Arm (1969) and Ivan Vasilyevich: Back to the Future (1973), as among some of her favorites (8:56).  The other films she mentions, such as Andrei Tutyshkin’s musical comedy Wedding in Malinovka (1967), are also older films. About The Wedding she says “фильм такой очень добрый и очень искренний” (“such a kind and sincere film”) (11:00).

While her favorite movies as a child were older Soviet comedies, her parents preferred American films, especially those that starred actors Danny deVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger, such as Terminator (dir. James Cameron 1984) and Twins (dir. Ivan Reitman 1989) (8:56). Her parents did not often attend the movie theater, attending the drama theater more often (41:39) When she did go to the movie theater with her parents, as they rarely went without their children, Davydova distinctly remembers seeing the film Red Heat (dir. Walter Hill 1988), which starred Arnold Schwarzenegger as a Soviet police officer (41:48).

At home, Davydova and her family watched movies on the television, as well as programs that aired regularly. They also acquired VHS tapes so they could watch movies at home (43:22).

When she was a student, she remembers attending the movie theater with her class as it was on the syllabus. The movie, Crime and Punishment (dir. Lev Kulidzhanov 1969), was a black and white film, which she remembers enjoying more than the book (12:17). The film resonated deeply with Davydova, as saying that “вот как раз, тогда этот вопрос была у меня. То есть мне было наверное лет 13-14, то есть я уже начинала более серьезно задумываться о Боге.” (12:17)

Davydova did not often attend the movie theater, especially because when she was studying at school and university she did not have a lot of money (6:21). As Davydova grew up, going to the movies changed a lot for her. After university and her marriage, both which took place after the collapse of the Soviet Union, she realized that going to the movies had become something habitual and ordinary (7:02). In comparison, she says that during the early post-Soviet period, movies showed few films and that film was used as a distraction from daily life (7:02).

Davydova presents a clear picture of movie-going after the collapse of the Soviet Union, supplying the view of a child who was raised during the tumultuous time of the late 1980s and early 1990s. She discusses in depth the changes that occurred from when she was a child to the 2010s.

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