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I WISH YOU!... (“Zhelayou Vam!...”)  (1982)


“I Wish You” - “Zhelayou Vam!” was the diploma work of Yuri Mamin during his studies in the two year Masters Course of Scriptwriters and Directors in Moscow, in the workshop of Eldar Ryazanov.

The Master class of E. Ryazanov was called comedic, even though Ivan Dichovichny and Isaac Fridberg, two very un-comedic future directors, studied there.  Although Mamin considered himself to be a comedic, he wanted to find his own style within this genre.

As a result, the 25-minute reel “I Wish You” did not look like a typical comedy to viewers who were used to the genre.  Rather, namely here, in his first original film, Yuri Mamin revealed his talent as a director of tragicomedies.  All humor, in the opinion of Mamin, should not come from the comic acting of actors, nor from funny grimaces and falls, but from the funny situations where the artists should be authentic within limits, acting according to the advice of C. S. Stanislavsky who suggested:  “How would I act In this situation?”

The main hero, Boris Petrovich, performed by an amateur actor, 75-year-old Modest Tsirulina, the piercing image of an old Soviet worker and member of the intelligentsia, by an act of fate, works in the Soviet registration office in a provincial town.

“Zhelayou Vam…”  (I wish you…)  are the words Boris Petrovich uses to begin every one of his encounters with compatriots, whether at burials, at births or at weddings.  Boris Petrovich turns the offensive official act of receiving a document confirming civil state into a ceremonial ritual with music and poems, offering sympathy to the relatives of the deceased, and wishing happiness young people.  He tried to introduce elements of long-forgotten Russian-Orthodox ceremony into boring Soviet customs. But in his hometown he was considered an eccentric old man, and people missed no opportunity to make fun of him.

And so it was one morning, when a speeding motorcycle splashed Boris Petrovich from head to toe with mud.  Boris Petrovich, as always, was smartly dressed, and hurrying to work to conduct a regular ceremony.

This led our hero to such despair that he furiously shouted to the bully: “I hope you crash!” And to his surprise!  The rider crashed into a trash container...


Then, the crude old registry-office director slipped down the office stairs, breaking his arm ...
Then, the local bar burned where they poured vodka into Boris Petrovich’s glass of water ...
And Boris Petrovich became famous. He proved that he could do evil and everyone started to think he was important!...

The graduate film was given an "A" by the selection committee, which was headed by actress Lyudmila Gurchenko. However, the film received a frigid reception from the actor’s home studio. The then-director of “Lenfilm” V. Aksenov and party organizer I. Maslennikov did not recognize the director’s talent and did not invite him to make movies. Yuri Mamin would need to return to the duties of second director for several years and wait his turn for a debut.


Interesting facts.


During his Masters’ studies, Yuri Mamin and his family were vacationing in town of Ust-Narva, having rented a cottage on the shore of the Baltic Sea.
His wife was supposed to arrive on the daily bus from Leningrad.  Mamin rushed along the highway to the bus stop, wearing a freshly-pressed white shirt.  It had just rained and it was cool and sunny.  He had to walk for about fifteen minutes. On the way to the bus stop, while trying to avoid puddles, Mamin, was trying to come up with an idea for his graduation film. Suddenly, a car raced past him, driving straight through a huge puddle and splashed him from head to toe with dirty water. Mamin was so furious that the least he wanted to do was make a visit to the car’s owners. And suddenly it dawned on him: what if, in fact, around the next turn I see the car crashed?...How should I feel? - Surprised?.. Scared?.. Triumphant?..

He did not see a crashed car, however he did feel a sense of joy and triumph: the story for his graduation film was found!.. That same day, Mamin rushed to see the poet Leikin, who also had rented a cottage there and together they came up with the script of an eccentric registrar employee, who was the “bearer of ill-wishes”.

  Mamin would have to wait 20 years to see his stern wishes carried out.

In the first year of the new century Mamin was vacationing in a village on the banks of the Volga.  Along came a carload of “New Russians” - unbridled drunken masters of life with fat necks and shaved heads. The car stopped in front of his house, between the old church and the bandits began to drink heavily, blaring bandit pop music at full volume. At this time, a wedding procession came back from the spring which was nearby.

  One of the bandits approached the bride, who was dressed in white, grabbed her in his arms and began to kiss her, ignoring her screams and protests. The groom tried to stop, but got punched in the face and passed out. Other relatives began to try and reason with the bullies. Finally, the drunken idiot let the bride and entire wedding party go and they quickly carried her to the waiting bus.

Mamin picked up an axe, went to the fence and began furiously chopping wood, hoping that someone in the drunken group would talk to him. He did not know what and how to respond, but felt overwhelmed with rage and clenched the axe in his hands... Several times one fat man looked dumbly at him, but did not say anything. Finally, the company decided it was time to go. The bandits threw the leftovers right in the middle of the road, got in their cars and sped away.  Their BMW roared along the sandy road, kicking up dust. Mamin then turned towards the cross on the cupola of the church and, with all his strength, said: “Lord, please make them crash!”

Ten seconds there was a distant rumble and the clank of metal. After a while, the whole village found out that the carload of bandits was in a sorry state, having crashed into the concrete wall of the well and flipped over near the exit of the holy place.

What was it? - Coincidence?.. Or the power of righteous anger or heartfelt words?.. It is impossible to argue either one or the other. However, justice prevailed. The energy of righteous anger is a terrible power. And in this instance it happened just like in the film “I Wish You”.

  And when this righteous anger boils over, containing the energy of the whole nation, constantly humiliated by the limitless power of corrupt officials and greedy rich people, then a social revolution occurs.

© Katerina Ksenyeva 2011