S novom godom, dorogie druzia….
I was feeling in the mood for some holiday music and found some of my favorite Russian songs on youtube. They’re from the Soviet-era farce “Ironiya Sudby, ili S Legkim Parom” (literally, “The Irony of Fate, or Here’s to Your Easy Steam” but maybe better as “The Irony of Fate, or Enjoy Your Bath”). The movie’s as ubiquitous and beloved in Russia as “A Charlie Brown Christmas” (Youtube 1, 2, 3) is in the US, though the movie focuses on the New Year holiday rather than Christmas.
The songs and movie are funny, poignant, whimsical, and just a bit subversive. The captions in the video are okay, but not great. Here’s a better translation of the first song, “Esli u vas netu teti,” which starts out “If you have no home/It won’t be set on fire.”
The main plot, an irreverent love story, is made possible only because Soviet development is so undramatic and ordinary as to render St. Petersburg and Moscow identical and interchangeable. A Muscovite man stumbles home drunk, not realizing he’d traveled from Moscow to St. Petersburg. He walks down what he thinks is his street, enters “his” apartment building, uses his key to open “his” apartment which has only slightly different layout furnishings, and is awoken from his stupor when the apartment’s female owner comes out to investigate the noise. Romantic comedy ensues. Here’s a small New York Times review and the IMDB entry. Watch out for the 2007 remake/sequel of the movie; I haven’t seen it but have heard it’s not very good. There’s a reason the original is played and replayed each year…