Underground metro springs a leak in hit Russian film

Updated 09 March 2013
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Underground metro springs a leak in hit Russian film

As Moscow’s legendary chandeliered underground fills with water, thousands of terrified commuters flee through flooded tunnels in a disaster movie that has topped Russia’s box office.
The film, titled simply “Metro”, depicts what might happen if Moscow’s Stalin-era underground system, which last year carried more than two billion passengers, sprung a leak from the Moscow River flowing above it and a speeding train crashed into a wall of water.
Filmed in a genuine metro system — albeit in the Volga city of Samara, not Moscow — the film looks disturbingly realistic, from the boxy blue carriages to the clunky monitoring equipment that simply loses all contact with the train. “Can you imagine what’s going on down there?” asks one petrified employee.
The film topped Russia’s box office in its first weekend, comprehensively beating action hero Arnold Schwarzenegger’s comeback movie “The Last Stand”. It has now earned $ 9.7 million, according to preliminary figures released by local magazine.
The film’s budget totaled $ 13 million, including a $ 6 million grant from a state fund designed to promote national cinema.
The real Moscow metro is rich with legend, from the giant cockroaches that allegedly roam its tunnels to secret lines said to lead from the Kremlin. Its ornate decor includes talismans such as the bronze dog at the central Revolution Square station whose nose has been rubbed bright by constant pats for luck.
Muscovites associate recent genuine horrors with the metro, including deadly bombings in 2004 and 2010 as well as a harrowing accident in 2006 in which a pile being driven into the ground for an advertising hoarding pierced through a shallow tunnel.
Well-heeled Muscovites make a point of never descending into the metro — even though that means sitting in traffic jams for hours on end.
The film plays on latent fears about the crumbling network, but the director dismissed the idea that it could upset survivors of militant bombings. “You see, if you argue like that, we couldn’t make World War II movies, we couldn’t make any films because they will always somehow touch people who had the experience,” said director Anton Megerdichev at a press conference.
Unsurprisingly perhaps, Moscow metro’s management was not keen on the film, banning the crew from filming in its stations. Undeterred, production was moved to Minsk, the capital of Belarus, only for a deadly metro bombing to strike there in April 2011 as the crew was due to start filming.
Finally they went to Samara, around 1,050 kilometers (652 miles) south of Moscow, whose little-used metro system proved only too authentic. “The most interesting thing is that it’s wet. It drips everywhere, we didn’t need to add any computer graphics. They constantly mop and wipe those stations, so basically it was perfect for us,” the director said jokingly.


Russian Slava brings on his clowning in sell-out show in Saudi Arabia

The Tickets for the first performance of ‘Slava’s Snow Show’ in Dhahran were sold out on Thursday. (Photo/supplied)
Updated 20 October 2018
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Russian Slava brings on his clowning in sell-out show in Saudi Arabia

  • The 900-seat theater at Ithra was sold out for the first performance for “Slava’s Snow Show” in Saudi Arabia
  • The show has scooped 23 awards internationally including London’s Time Out Best Show of the Year

DHAHRAN: The Kingdom is staging the global hit “Slava’s Snow Show” at Ithra’s theater in Dhahran in October as part of the “Tanween” season exploring creativity in art, music, theater, science, literature, cultural heritage and entrepreneurship through a wide range of talks, shows and workshops from all around the world.
“Slava’s Snow Show” was created over 20 years ago in Moscow by the Russian-born artist Slava Polunin, who was inspired by Marcel Marceau and Charlie Chaplin. The show has toured more than 120 cities with more than 7,000 performances in different famous stages and theaters around Europe, America, and Asia. It has been seen by 7 million people worldwide.
The show has scooped 23 awards internationally including London’s Time Out Best Show of the Year and the Drama Desk Awards Exceptional Theatre Project in New York where the show was performed on Broadway.
The 900-seat theater at Ithra was sold out for the first performance for “Slava’s Snow Show” in Saudi Arabia on Thursday, which played to an excited house of all ages. Performances will be held at the King Abdul Aziz Center for World Culture, Dhahran, on Oct. 20, 24, 25, 26 and 27. Slava explained the message behind the show to Arab News. “We aim to demonstrate the Russian art to the Saudi audience,” he said.
He was delighted by the reception at the first performance in the Kingdom. “The audience was wowed. I could see their gasps as I performed. Their fascination showed us how highly they appreciate arts. It is indeed our first time in Saudi Arabia and it won’t be the last.”
During the show Slava takes on many different personas, both cheerful and miserable. His repertoire is more diverse than the two common clowning styles — Auguste and the White Clown. He also invites the audience to interact with him during the show.
"We work to deliver our shows here in Saudi exactly as they are delivered in Russia.”
Slava added: “The theater in Russia is an essential part of the Russian culture and identity and having such shows and performances in Ithra particularly and in Saudi Arabia generally is part of the intercultural relationship between Saudi and Russia.”
When asked about the difficulties that faces this kind of art in theater, Slava said: “The only challenge that we encounter is the traveling exhaustion and that is it.”
“Tanween” events are being held until Oct. 27.