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Eastern Euro Hollywood

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Great films are like great songs. They transport us to another place or time, and evoke emotion. We become so closely connected to the characters and plot that we're sometimes moved to tears, anger, fear, or hysterical laughter. I remember visiting my relatives in California as a teenager and taking a tour of Universal Studios Hollywood. There I saw the famous "Psycho" house in which Norman Bates hid his decaying mother, but my favorite part of the tour was the clock tower from the movie "Back to the Future." I'm certain you all know this film series, which is one of my favorites of all time. Hop into a time machine and experience life during a different era - sure why not! It's every adventurer's dream scenario. To which place and time would I travel? Undecided! Yet films also can be dangerous as they often project stereotypes about ethnicities, cultures and places. If a foreigner's perception of America is based solely on Hollywood films, then they would be sadly mistaken about the realities of life in my country. The same can be said about Hollywood's portrayal of Russia and Russians.

During my autumn journey through Eastern Europe, I had the opportunity to visit two film studios. The first, pictured here, is a modern and futuristic studio located in Poland. I immediately braced for an alien invasion when I saw the outside.

1. The inside isn't much different. You're immediately greeted by a monster sculpture. The studio was founded by a Polish entrepreneur who also created the first privately owned Polish radio station. The name of the studio is "Alvernia."

reception

2. Same twisting style of staircases throughout the entire complex. Everything is immaculately clean, shiny and in excellent condition. The studio opened in the last decade, with major productions only coming out in the past few years.

stairs

3. The studio itself resembles a spaceship in all aspects. Doorways and walkways look like entrances to the mothership.

doorway

4. Cheerful and beautiful tour guide, who spoke excellent English. All doors are opened via fingerprint verification.

fingerprint

5. The studio has Dolby Premier Studio Certification, and prides itself on sound quality. Many musical and orchestral performances are recorded here.

acoustics

6. Fancy dressing rooms, complete with hair and make-up stations.

dressing

7. Huge,open warehouse type room in which any type of movie set could be built. Films from the Czech Republic, India and Romania have been filmed at the studio. Alvernia received primary funding from an innovation initiative of the European Union, and has since received additional funding and awards from Polish agencies. It is located between Katowice and Krakow.

floor

8. Screening room for film edits and viewings. Massive and high tech sound boards here. You can feel the roar of Dolby surround sound as your seat vibrates from sound emissions. Copyright credit for this photo to macos. I've never heard of any Polish films, or viewed one. How about you?

boards

9. I have to say the same for Latvian films. I've never once seen a movie from this country, and the studio we visited here is more traditional, with no glamorous or modern touches. Now let's take a look at Cinevilla, a film lot located in Tukums, Latvia. We had no tour guide here, but according to online research the lot was created for the 2007 feature film "Defenders of Riga." Maybe some of you have seen it? Many colorful things here, including these strange pencils.

pencils

10. Hanging tires. Reminds me of a complicated obstacle course for athletic training. Something the great American film hero and boxer "Rocky Balboa" would run through.

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11. Defenders of Riga was a war time drama. A lot of old, vintage military and medical equipment parked on the film lot.

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12.
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13. A post-Apocalyptic village?

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14. On another part of the lot, the opposite scene. This could be any charming, quaint European village in which lovers go on an afternoon stroll. Cinevilla is good for the imagination. You can create all kinds of plots and characters in your mind based on the different landscapes.

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15. House on the hill. A great place to film the most thrilling moment of a horror or suspense film.

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16. Hidden metro entrance to escape the killer! :)) One of my favorite creepy movies is "Silence of the Lambs," which chronicles the story of a FBI agent chasing the serial killer Hannibal Lecter. Several films in the series, but the first is the best.

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17. Church, hotel, or mansion? Cute trolley in the scene also.

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18. Shipwrecked and nowhere to go. Have you seen the film "Cast Away" with Tom Hanks, where he plays a FedEx executive on a plane ride? He becomes stranded on a remote island after the plane crashes. His only companion and friend on the island is a soccer ball, which he decorates with a face made from his bloody palm print. Great film and portrayal of human endurance. This canoe would have come in handy for him. Hanks is one of America's most brilliant actors, playing both comedic and dramatic roles very well.

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19. What happened to the person in these clothes?

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20. A railroad runs through one of the imaginary towns.

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21. A fenced in kid's park which seems completely out of place. Here, a playground and small ship named "Enriko" litter the ground. Maybe a children's show was filmed here at some point.

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22. I almost felt like I was back in sunny California. Eastern Europe's version of Mickey Mouse?

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23. Recipe for a successful film is painted on this truck! In America, we also call movies "flicks." Example: "Have you seen that action flick?" Common slang phrase. The last question on the truck made me laugh. I echo the sentiment. Who the f*ck is Maris Grigalis??

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24. The rails and train stations have played an integral role in legendary films. This is my favorite part of the lot. An old, inoperable locomotive, train platform and clock. The setting for numerous scenes throughout cinematic history.


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A film must be intriguing and entertaining from the very beginning to capture and keep my attention. My sister and father will sit and watch an entire movie from beginning to end, no matter how horrible it is. For me, there is a small window for the filmmaker to somehow move me, make me think, or humor me. Otherwise, I give up and switch it off.

By the way, remember this scene from Back to the Future? In the DeLorean time machine, Marty McFly and Doc are traveling to the future -October 21, 2015! Hard to believe this date is almost upon us!



Amazing how the years pass so quickly, yet I remember this scene as though I viewed it yesterday. A testament to great film making.

What's your favorite movie?

P.S.: This post is dedicated to my reader rider3099, an avid film watcher and occasional movie critic on her blog.

Comments

( 55 comments — Leave a comment )
andrey_kaminsky
May. 7th, 2014 05:12 am (UTC)
Хитрый совет
You need to post more pictures of Alexander and more flattering texts about hes beauty and attractiveness;) So, he will invite you to travel with him more often.
I love the flick "Back to the Future" also. Lea Thompson is one of my favorite actresses, but not so favorite as Judy Holliday
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0063615/
This is masterpiece flick, unknown outside Russia. I'd like to see a flick in this genre flicked in the US, but i don't know anything like that.
peacetraveler22
May. 7th, 2014 12:34 pm (UTC)
Re: Хитрый совет
He's usually traveling on press tours, and when he's going on an independent trip he now takes his girlfriend. So, I'm out of luck! :) You knew this slang word "flick" before I brought it to your attention? Thanks for the Soviet movie suggestion. I will see if I can find it with English subtitles.
Re: Хитрый совет - andrey_kaminsky - May. 7th, 2014 12:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Хитрый совет - peacetraveler22 - May. 7th, 2014 02:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Хитрый совет - andrey_kaminsky - May. 7th, 2014 04:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Хитрый совет - peacetraveler22 - May. 7th, 2014 04:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Хитрый совет - andrey_kaminsky - May. 7th, 2014 05:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Хитрый совет - peacetraveler22 - May. 7th, 2014 05:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
gatanegra15
May. 7th, 2014 05:30 am (UTC)
Beautiful! :) the pencils are so cute! :)
peacetraveler22
May. 7th, 2014 12:35 pm (UTC)
Thanks, the purpose of the pencils is unclear. Perhaps it was decoration for the entrance of an art shop in some film scene.
rider3099
May. 7th, 2014 05:35 am (UTC)
Wow! :) Thank you very much, Shannon!
I like to watch movies as much as I like to read books. 4 years ago we have been to Los Angeles and spent the whole day an the Universal Studio. Oh, it was such a pleasure! Like inside a fairy-tale :)
peacetraveler22
May. 7th, 2014 12:36 pm (UTC)
It's amazing to see the movie sets at Universal Studios because parts of them look so fake. However, on the movie screen they look magnificent and totally believable. Hollywood magic. :))
me_frai
May. 7th, 2014 06:15 am (UTC)
Very interesting post, I prefer latvian film studio) my favourite are films of Cohen brothers and films of Emir Kusturica
peacetraveler22
May. 7th, 2014 12:38 pm (UTC)
It seems most readers didn't find the post interesting based on the lack of response, but I'm glad you enjoyed it. :) The best Coen brothers films, in my opinion, are "The Big Lebowski' and "Fargo."
(no subject) - me_frai - May. 7th, 2014 07:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - May. 7th, 2014 07:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - me_frai - May. 7th, 2014 07:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - May. 7th, 2014 07:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
qi_tronic
May. 7th, 2014 10:00 am (UTC)
All these spaceship-like constructions look quite silly when are made from today's real-world materials...
The same, trying to replicate Stalin-era classic buildings but with blue windows and plastic frames also look silly.
The form and the material should be in consonance.

Surely, I adore "Back to the Future" series but in general, as I probably told you before, I think that Americans do not understand what the spirit of future is.
In all American movies people of past, present, and future are psychologically and socially the same average Americans. Only technology changes.
Very primitive I think it is :)

For the real spirit of Future I recommend these movies:

en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Moscow-Cassiopeia (and it's sequel!)
en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Per_Aspera_Ad_Astra_%28film%29 (original version)
en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Guest_from_the_Future

I know that the last one is watched by Russian children in America so even there they have a chance to grow as good people with proper values :)))
peacetraveler22
May. 7th, 2014 12:40 pm (UTC)
"Americans don't understand what the future is." :))) And how do you envision the future? I will try to find the films you referenced with English subtitles so I can put your comment in context and understand the complex mind of futuristic Russians. :)
(no subject) - qi_tronic - May. 7th, 2014 12:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - May. 7th, 2014 02:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - qi_tronic - May. 7th, 2014 02:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - May. 7th, 2014 03:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - qi_tronic - May. 7th, 2014 03:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
nguryev
May. 7th, 2014 10:39 am (UTC)
The polish movies and directors are one of the best in the world movies. Roman Polanski, you probably know he worked a lot in USA and France also there are Andrzej Wajda, Jerzy Hoffman etc. Polish movies are much better than American ( to tell the truth everything is better than American movies except probably some Indian movies or something like that). and I would put them bit higher than some French movies.
peacetraveler22
May. 7th, 2014 12:29 pm (UTC)
Sure, I know Roman Polanski, primarily because of his connection to the Manson murders but I've seen "Rosemary's Baby." I agree, most American movies are horrible and they are produced in such mass quantities. However, there is sometimes a gem in all the nonsense.
(no subject) - nguryev - May. 7th, 2014 12:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - May. 7th, 2014 02:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
k_netalie
May. 7th, 2014 02:41 pm (UTC)
I believe that cinematography as any other art dosen't have nationality. there are tons of great movies made in by the Americans.
p.s.: what would i give for a job on a film set))

Edited at 2014-05-07 02:41 pm (UTC)
peacetraveler22
May. 7th, 2014 02:51 pm (UTC)
What about great films by Russians? What do you recommend to watch? Yes, it seems very glamorous to work on a movie set, but in reality it is probably long hours and labor intensive. Still, better than sitting behind a desk. :)
(no subject) - k_netalie - May. 8th, 2014 01:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - May. 8th, 2014 02:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
skvorets1989
May. 7th, 2014 04:16 pm (UTC)
I've learnt English by watching movies. Of course I haven't learnt it completely yet but major contribution of what I did learn relates to movies.

I have a lot of favorites I'll name just a few of them.

"Little miss Sunshine" - I watched and rewatched final scene 5 thouthand million of billions times give or take. Very powerfull ending.

"Dark knight" - the Joker by Heath Ledger is just amazing. I've read that he isolated himself from the world for month to train his voice to sound like it sounded in the movie. Very talented actor. Died too soon.

"How to train your dragon" - best 3d movie ever. "Avatar" - is a political propagandist crap not a movie.

"Oceans" - is the best documentary ever. The director of the film himself presented it in Russia. He gave a speech which was called "What is the ocean?" and then he was approachable for questions. I barely spoke any English back then but still dared to come to him and to ask "what was the Ocean after all?". He started to tell me something then quickly understood I didn't follow him so he just said "The answer is in your heart".

"Resident evil" - is a best horror movie but only a first one in a series. Everything that came after that was a joke and parody on itself.

"Mr. Nobody" is the best art house movie although I don't really like the genre.

"Lost" is the best among TV shows. I will rewatch it my entire life. "Friends" is also a very good show but "Lost" is better.

As I've said I have been learning English by those and other movies. And I strongly belive that is the best way to start learning English. And books are the best way to continue.

P.S. I hope you don't mind big comments :)
peacetraveler22
May. 7th, 2014 04:41 pm (UTC)
Big comments are good! I've never heard of the documentary "Oceans." In general, I don't like 3D films like Avatar. Little Miss Sunshine, this is a great comedy and cult favorite in America. I watched Lost for the first few seasons, but then became disinterested when the focus shifted away from John Locke. He was my favorite character. You can't really compare Friends and Lost, because they are completely different genres. One drama, the other comedy but Friends is definitely one of the most popular sitcoms in American history. Reruns of old Friends episodes can be found at anytime of the day on some American TV channel. You never formally studied English? Because your level is very high to have simply learned it from films.
(no subject) - skvorets1989 - May. 7th, 2014 05:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - May. 7th, 2014 05:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
mybathroom
May. 7th, 2014 04:28 pm (UTC)
Cool and interesting place, Shannon!
Thank you for the word "flick". I didn't know that. How often Americans use it?

The one of my favorite movie is "Приключение Шерлока Холмса и Доктора Ватсона / The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson"!

Edited at 2014-05-07 04:32 pm (UTC)
peacetraveler22
May. 7th, 2014 04:36 pm (UTC)
It's not the most common slang word, but we use it on occasion. I know you already saw these studios on Alexander's blog, so thanks for taking another look. It seems every country has Sherlock Holmes movies, and many also now have television series focused on this interesting character. In the U.S., our TV series is called "Elementary."
real_marsel
May. 7th, 2014 05:07 pm (UTC)
A touch the mistery. I adore to create some shows or movies.
peacetraveler22
May. 7th, 2014 05:27 pm (UTC)
I think you also told me you really like musicals, correct? Only on stage or also on film? It seems a common trend in America to make some Broadway musicals into movies.
(no subject) - real_marsel - May. 7th, 2014 05:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
mujlan01
May. 7th, 2014 06:54 pm (UTC)
Nice post and pictures!
In Castaway Hank's hero wasn't a pilot, if my memory serves me he was DHL guy )) Anyway it's a great movie....
But if you ask me what is the best of the best I would call Forrest Gump. Absolutely incomparable thing :)
Btw I've started to read an original book... Can you tell me that "wrong English" is this just an author's attempt to give readers a kind of "Alabama accent", or it's something else?
Excerpt: "We play real good after that, cept them Nebraska corn jerkoff niggers an big ole dumb white boys, they ain't jus
settin there observin the scene."
peacetraveler22
May. 7th, 2014 06:59 pm (UTC)
Yes, you're right! Thanks for the correction. I will update the post. Do you read the blogger Peter Lovigin? He is always superimposing Forrest Gump into his photos. :)) You can see it in the cover photo of his recent post here - http://lovigin.livejournal.com/429548.html. The author of your quote is simply conveying a Southern accent to the reader, but they do have a unique dialect in this region of America. And it's not grammatically correct. :)
(no subject) - mujlan01 - May. 8th, 2014 04:58 am (UTC) - Expand
mujlan01
May. 8th, 2014 03:15 pm (UTC)
off top
May I ask you something counselor? :))
Found an interesting article:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gini-graham-scott/it-should-be-a-crime-but-_b_5235889.html?utm_hp_ref=crime&ir=Crime

Is this true? You can't hire an attorney to pursue a thief if the case weights less than a zillion?
So how you guys do your business in US? Only through reliable and trusted partners on the advice of friends?
Or it's just a matter of drawing-up of a contract, dont forget to put inside a "right clauses"?
peacetraveler22
May. 8th, 2014 04:49 pm (UTC)
Re: off top
This article is an exaggeration, but it's true that breaches of contract are usually both civil and criminal offenses and the standards of proof are different for each. The criminal element is difficult to prove because the standard is submission of evidence which proves "beyond a reasonable doubt" that there was a violation. So, if there is any question as to guilt or not, the verdict must be not guilty. For civil, the burden of proof is lesser.

Maybe lazy attorneys don't take such cases, but competent ones do. The real issue is that most people can't afford to hire good attorneys because they are very expensive. I think this is true in every country, not just America. Yet there are a lot of organizations that offer free ("pro bono") legal assistance, people just don't know about them. I do free legal work for people in the area of immigration and asylum. Btw, how will you celebrate Victory Day??
Re: off top - mujlan01 - May. 9th, 2014 07:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: off top - peacetraveler22 - May. 9th, 2014 07:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
anna_sollanna
May. 12th, 2014 03:53 pm (UTC)
> Yet films also can be dangerous as they often project stereotypes about ethnicities, cultures and places.
And even physics laws! It looks like in Hollywood films work other physics laws, different from ones on the rest of the Earth :)))
> If a foreigner's perception of America is based solely on Hollywood films, then they would be sadly mistaken about the realities of life in my country.
And can you please name films where the US is shown correctly?
I am not a keen of science fiction, but Polish film studio impressed me very much!
> I've never heard of any Polish films, or viewed one.
And what about "S@motnosc w sieci" ("Loneliness on the Net"), made by a famous bestseller of the same name written by a poland writer Janusz Leon Wiśniewski? I didn't like this book, the movie IMHO was really better, though I still can't say I was impressed by both of them very much... Then there were 2 brilliant comedies Vabank and Vabank-2 about swindlers in 1930s in Poland, one more comedy Seksmisja (about the future when there were no men left :)) and there were a lot historical movies.
> I have to say the same for Latvian films. I've never once seen a movie from this country,
I have never seen any Latvian movie either but, you know, a movie studio has been in Riga since Soviet times, and there were a lot of interesting movies made there, especially movies made by books of European and American authors, so I believe Latvian movies can be quite of high quality.
Cinevilla studio seems to be quite cute, but subway entrance with a wooden door looks quite weird.
peacetraveler22
May. 13th, 2014 02:34 pm (UTC)
Have you seen the Brad Pitt film "Legends of the Fall?" It has beautiful cinematography of Montana and the Wild West, and is a great family tale filled with love and tragedy. The Polish film about a future in which no men exist sounds interesting! :))
(no subject) - anna_sollanna - May. 14th, 2014 12:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - anna_sollanna - May. 20th, 2014 09:04 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - May. 20th, 2014 01:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
livejournal
Feb. 11th, 2015 06:02 pm (UTC)
Soviet Nostalgia in Rural Estonia
User pilip_pilipich referenced to your post from Soviet Nostalgia in Rural Estonia saying: [...]           Eastern Euro Hollywood [...]
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