This time, the character I have chosen cannot really be described as a heroine. Rather, she is more of an anti-heroine. Tanya Serebryakova is the protagonist of a 1988 Soviet film directed by Isaac Fridberg, called Kukolka (translated, amongst other things, as Dolly in English). She is a talented young Russian gymnast, competing at the highest international level, but she suffers a serious back injury at the peak of her career, cruelly cutting it short. With no prospect of bringing further glory to her homeland, she is ignominiously shunted back to the town which she came from, with the expectation that she will simply return to being a normal high school girl. But years of almost military-like training have made the stubborn Tanya a cold, confrontational individual and this inevitably leads to tragedy.
Dolly was shown here in Australia back when I was in high school, as part of what was called the Glasnost Film Festival. I’m not exactly sure what it was that drove me to see it in the first place, but I suspect it may have had something to do with Svetlana Zasypkina (the actress who plays the role of Tanya). She is very pretty and, as I found out recently, was herself a gymnast who had to give up the sport due to injury, like Tanya.
As I wrote above, Tanya is, if anything, an anti-heroine, but I really do like her. I sympathise with her struggle, as she suddenly finds herself in a completely alien and somewhat hostile environment. And I admire her for fearlessly tackling this problem head-on. But I recognise that her methods are questionable at best and thus the disaster that befalls her is at least partly of her own making. Having said that, however, it is difficult to see how things could have turned out any other way, given Tanya‘s strong character and her strict upbringing in the harsh world of competitive sport.
I ended up seeing Dolly twice during the Glasnost Film Festival, which was probably one of the first times I ever went to see a film twice in quick succession. And it had a big impact on me. For a while afterwards, I was very interested in the Soviet Union, although I eventually became acquainted with anime and manga and thus my attention turned to Japan. But I always remembered Dolly and I kept hoping I would one day be able to see it again. Well, I finally managed to do that a few weeks ago. After doing a bit of research, I was happy to find out that Dolly is currently available to watch for free on YouTube, thanks to Mosfilm, the studio which produced it. I will put a link to it below, however keep in mind that it’s in Russian without any subtitles. So unless you know Russian, or are familiar with the plot, it probably won’t be very interesting to watch.
Aside from finding out Dolly was on YouTube, there is one other happy discovery I made in the past few weeks. On the Russian Wikipedia entry for Dolly (alas, it doesn’t have an English entry), it states that in 2012, a novel by Mikhail Androsov was released, called Floor Exercises, which is a direct sequel to the film and one which expands on the story of Tanya Serebryakova. I purchased a digital copy of this book from a Russian book site and read it using Google Translate, which is probably a terrible way to read a book, but I have to say, I really enjoyed it! I think Mr Androsov did a wonderful job at capturing the spirit of the original movie, especially in regards to the personality of Tanya. And I also like the humour he uses in his writing. The cover is a bit bland (see below), but all in all, I would really recommend this book if you enjoyed Dolly, except that again, unless you know Russian… Of course, if some people are interested in knowing more about Floor Exercises, I’d be more than glad to write a brief summary of it in a future post.
Well, there you have it. I hope you enjoyed this post on Tanya Serebryakova, one of my favourite (anti-)heroines! Till next time, au revoir, arrivederci and may the force be with you!😊