Post-ironic Neostalgia


'Guest from the Future' poster
‘Guest from the Future’ poster

 The phenomenon of Soviet nostalgia is effectively used in Western media and popular culture to position the Russians in a certain manner. This nostalgia mixed with self-orientalization by Russia’s useful idiots serves as a ferment for an easily digestible ‘analysis’. Obviously, Soviet nostalgia has little to do with the real historical Soviet Union and its society. It’s an idealized, ‘celestial’ version of it. Moreover, in order to be a part of this ostalgia one doesn’t have to be a socialist or communist.

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There’s a film (TV miniseries) that was produced in 1984 and aired on March 25, 1985. It became an instant classic and achieved a cult status for my generation. I’m talking about Guest from the Future (Gost’ya iz budushchego) based on the novel by Kir Byluchov One Hundred Years Ahead (Sto let tomu vperyod). The main roles were played by Natalya Guseva as Alisa Seleznyova/Selezneva and Aleksey Fomkin as Kolya Gerasimov. Their roles in the TV series were the height of their acting career.

The future of the actors is pretty telling and even symbolic. In 1987 she met her future husband in Minsk, who like many boys in the USSR fell in love with her while watching the film. In 1993 they married and she took her husband’s surname – Murashkevich (although they divorced in 2001, she didn’t change it). In 1994 Natalya graduated from Moscow State Academy of Fine Chemical Technology. Two years later she gave birth to their daughter Alesya. Nowadays she works in a company that produces ELISA (sic!), short for the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.

Aleksey couldn’t fit in the post-Soviet reality. He served in the army, changed several jobs, moved to the Vladimir Oblast and got married. In February 1996 he died due to carbon monoxide poisoning: the apartment he stayed in with his friends caught fire and he didn’t escape because he was sleeping.

Short bio of some other actors:

  • Yelena Metyolkina (starring as Polina, employee at the Time Institute) changed many jobs – from secretary to model, according to her Wikipedia page now she works in a parish church choir;
  • Mikhail Kononov (starring as Krys, space pirate) refused to take part in post-Soviet trash movies and TV series, died in poverty in 2007, forgotten by his family and friends;
  • Evgeny Gerasimov (starring as the robot called Verter) in 1994 he became the People’s Artist of the Russian Federation. In 2001 he began his political career and now seats in the Moscow City Duma from United Russia party;
  • Marianna Ionesyan (starring as Yulya Gribkova, schoolgirl) in 1993 graduated from the Faculty of Philosophy of Moscow State University and then moved to the US. She is currently known as Marianna Grey and works in business consulting.

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The song from the film has the following words in the chorus:

O, wonderful afar, don’t be cruel to me…” (prekrasnoye dalyoko, ne bud’ ko mne zhestoko).

The first episode:

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Here’s a 2007 TV programme with Natalya Guseva (Murashkevich):

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Alisa Selezneva by e-soulu, 2014.
Alisa Selezneva by e-soulu, 2014.

The future ain’t what it used to be. (To be fair, it’s not 2084 yet).

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