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Eastern Euro Hollywood


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."


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.


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


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


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


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


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.


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?


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.


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.


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



13. A post-Apocalyptic village?


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.


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


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.


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


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.


19. What happened to the person in these clothes?


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


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.


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


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??


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.


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.


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
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.
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.
May. 7th, 2014 12:58 pm (UTC)
Re: Хитрый совет
You can find the subtitles separately, they are free.
It's hard to surprise me with slang, because i would rather impress you by barbarous еnglish if you heard my speech:)
May. 7th, 2014 02:00 pm (UTC)
Re: Хитрый совет
You write English very well, and I'm sure your spoken form is fine. I've noticed that many Russians are hesitant to speak English for fear of making a mistake, yet they fail to recognize that Americans are communicating with foreign immigrants on a daily basis in our homeland. Some sadly with very poor English skills. So, we're adept at understanding even horrible English, and are accustomed to a wide variety of dialects and accents. Don't be afraid to speak English if you ever make your way to America. And I hope you do some day!!
May. 7th, 2014 04:45 pm (UTC)
Re: Хитрый совет
You're right. Worst English is English English, the best is German, American is good enough. American films i can watch without subtitles, English can't.
May. 7th, 2014 04:46 pm (UTC)
Re: Хитрый совет
Sometimes even I can't understand the Brits or Scots, because their accent is so heavy!!
May. 7th, 2014 05:08 pm (UTC)
Re: Хитрый совет
I'm also somewhat offended by these people! They constantly define my language as Slovak. My ancestors participated in the Cold War not in order to that people confuse with my gothic Russian whith Slovak!
May. 7th, 2014 05:14 pm (UTC)
Re: Хитрый совет
But they are very jolly people, especially the Scots. I had a great time in Edinburgh and the boys are cute.


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