A while ago Mama wandered into my room and told me Prince Phillip had died.
I was shocked.
Not Philipp Kirkorov? I gasped.
It’s an easy mistake to make for an AngloRusski child.
Kirkorov is Russian TV light entertainment royalty.
Bulgarian by birth, he’s been a pop singer since the late eighties, but what really projected him into superstardom fame is
fronting Russia’s entry for Eurovision in 1995.
Sorry, that’s not quite right. Actually it was marrying Alla Pugachova, whose fame as a singer in a career spanning four decades, is along the same lines as that of Madonna. In Russia and the surrounding area anyway.
She also represented Russia at Eurovision, by the way. Came nowhere. I was quite surprised Russia went back to the competition after that.
Anyway. Kirkorov’s other unique selling point, aside from being incredibly tall, is his performance persona. Which is fabulously dressed. Fab-u-lous-ly.
He is currently the chief judge on the Russian version of the Masked Singer, with season three due to kick off any time now. Mama is super looking forward to it as Mama finds Philipp an uncomplicated joy, and looks forward to his outfits each week.
Although not the time. Mama thinks a family friendly show that ends after 11pm on a Sunday is inexplicably not family or worker friendly. Especially as it is precisely the sort of silliness that goes very well with a few sherries.
Which is a long way of saying that hearing that Philipp Kirkorov was making an appearance in the third installment of The Last Bogatyr film series was absolutely guaranteed to sell it to Mama, even if she weren’t already sold on this set of movies.
This final to the trilogy is called The Last Bogatyr, Messenger of Darkness.
(Someone has shoved an article into the English language title that Mama feels is unnecessary. But then, the English language internet seems to have settled on The Last Warrior as a good translation too where they haven’t given up entirely and called it Posledniy Bogatyr and Mama is not having any of that either. Search engines be dammed).
The unique selling point of the film this time was that it takes place not in fairytale world, but Moscow.
Does this set up a whole bunch of jokes about people like Baba Yaga interacting with modern life? Yes, indeed it does. Aside from the business with the tissues, there’s a whole riff on what middle aged couples do with the remote control for the TV, and also a timeless one about the frustrations of dealing with the Post Office.
There are a few in jokes for the locals too, like the one about what might happen to the hut on chicken’s legs when they park it to go off adventuring. Mama found the film quite funny, and even laughed out loud at least once. Indeed there were a number of shouts of laughter from the whole audience throughout the showing, which has got to be good in a family blockbuster.
And that’s not even including why it is chuckle worthy that Philipp Kirkorov is playing himself in The Last Bogatyr 3.
Mama also enjoyed the setting, and the fact you can tell it’s made by Russians because the bit of architecture the characters managed to keep wandering past, regardless of the actual geography of the streets they were supposedly walking/ driving/ running/ flying/ motorbiking/ teleporting down, was Moscow City. Not St Basil’s.
In fact, shock horror, St Basil’s, Red Square and the Kremlin did not feature once in this movie! I know! How will the foreign audiences even know it is Russia?
Although the film makers seem to have changed the location of Ivan’s flat, which Mama found a continuity blip too far. She might not travel round Russia that much, but she does know her Moscow.
But, basically, it’s good. Rather better than part two, and definitely living up to the promise of part one. And the fact has brought the trilogy to a fairly emphatically endingy ending is probably also a point in its favour for people resigned to the inevitable existence of the Avengers part seven hundred and eighty two.
The hat tip to the famous art work in the final scenes didn’t hurt either. Niiiiiice little Easter egg for those of us who haunt the Tretyakov Art Gallery.
The only mild criticism Mama has, in fact, is similar to the one Papa started with, which is Baba Yaga was a bit lacking in unearthly menace. I mean yeah, family friendly, but Baba Yaga should be a properly scary character, even when she’s broadly being helpful. Nobody does it better. Making her a slightly grumpy but essentially benevolent old biddy is weird and wrong in Mama’s opinion, and it’s not even her cultural heritage.
Plus there’s a slight tendency for the script writers to assume that Russian audiences haven’t actually seen any English language kids’ films in the last twenty years or so, and won’t recognise a bit of recycling.
Still, should you see The Last Bogatyr, Messenger of Darkness, and the other films too? Yes, and surely by now there are versions with English subtitles for at least the first one at the very least.
Although if you had got cracking on with learning Russian when we first brought these films to your attention, perhaps subtitles are no longer necessary.
Says Mama, who still can’t reliably remember which words have myakii znacks or deal with more than two cases at a time.
The trailer for The Last Bogatyr, Messenger of Darkness:
Photocredit: Mama has shamelessly used a couple of interesting pictures she found lying around on the internet to promote this Disney film, a service for which she, once again, is not receiving any form of compensation whatsoever. Hint hint, Russian filmmakers and distributors, Mama is very much available for invites to premiers and similar, especially if she gets to meet Philipp. Also, follow Kirkorov’s Instagram, see above, because everybody should, see caption and photo above. However, if we should not be using these pictures, we are very willing to take them down.