Khrustalyov, My Car!

Khrustalyov, My Car!
Khrustalyov, My Car!.jpg
Directed by Aleksei German
Produced by Aleksandr Golutva
Armen Medvedev
Guy Séligmann
Written by Aleksei German
Svetlana Karmalita
Starring Yuriy Tsurilo
Music by Andrey Petrov
Cinematography Vladimir Ilyin
Edited by Irina Gorokhovskaya
Distributed by PolyGram Filmed Entertainment
Release date
  • May 20, 1998 (1998-May-20)
Running time
150 minutes
Country Russia
Language Russian

Khrustalyov, My Car! (Russian: Хрусталёв, машину!, romanizedKhrustalyov, mashinu!) is a 1998 Russian comedy-drama film directed by Aleksei German and written by German and Svetlana Karmalita. It was produced by Canal+, CNC, Goskino, Lenfilm and VGTRK.


On the first day of the cold spring of 1953 two events occur, not comparable in importance: fireman Fedya Aramyshev is arrested and "the greatest leader of all times and peoples" Joseph Stalin is found lying on the floor of his dacha.

Some time before these incidents the life of military-medical service general Yuri Klensky is shown. In the Soviet Union the Doctors' plot rages to the utmost extent, but the jewish Klensky, cheering himself up with almost non-stop drunkenness hopes that the punishing sword of Soviet justice will not touch him. However, a number of events show that Klensky's hopes are futile, and soon arrest will follow. At first the General meets his own double in the hospital, and then in his house there is a "foreigner" bearing news that allegedly his relative lives abroad. Klensky, suspecting that it is a provocation, releases the "foreigner" from the stairs, but a local snitch manages to report in time to the MGB senior about the doctor's contact with foreigners.

Klensky tries to escape but ends up getting arrested. The General's family is evicted and is placed in a crowded communal apartment and Klensky himself after detention is left in free rein to the criminals who brutally beat and rape the General. But then a miracle happens: the bloody General is driven directly from the cell to the country to a certain "high-ranking" patient, who the shocked Klensky learns to be the "Great Leader". Stalin's state is hopeless, he is dying while wheezing and agonizing, and Beria's voice full of triumph utters the first sentence of post-Stalinist Russia, "Khrustalyov, My Car!".

Klensky is immediately released, but he does not return to medicine, the General "goes to the people". At the end of the film he being commandant of a train, happily drinks, and then balances a glass of port on his shaved head...



Production of Khrustalyov, My Car! took seven years for writer-director Aleksei German to finish.[2] German was able to bring the film to completion through financial backing from France.[3]


The film premiered at the 51st Cannes Film Festival on May 20, 1998 as part of the main competition for the Palme d'Or award.[4]

Critical response

During the Cannes premiere of Khrustalyov, My Car!, numerous critics walked out of the screening in disapproval due to its obtuse narrative and lengthy "unfunny" scenes of visual satire.[3] However, film director Martin Scorsese, the jury president for Cannes in 1998, considered it to be the best film in the festival that year.[5] Jacques Mandelbaum of Le Monde also gave the film praise, writing that it is a "carnivalesque record of the Soviet era", and belongs to a category of cinema that "challenges all categories of taste".[6] J.-M. Duran of the Lyon-based newspaper Le Progrès stated that the film is "incomprehensible, but bewitching", and compared its director Aleksei German to Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini.[6]

Upon its re-release by Arrow Films in December 2018,[5] the film was given renewed critical acclaim. British film critic Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian gave the film five out of five stars, describing it as "a surreal fantasia-epic and nihilist political satire of cynicism and violence".[7] Tara Brady of The Irish Times gave it four out of five stars, stating that "People come and go without introduction or elucidation. All of them are in keeping with the Soviet auteur’s grim view of humanity."[2]


At the 1999 Russian Guild of Film Critics Awards the picture was awarded as Best Film and Aleksei German received the Best Director prize.[8]


  1. ^ "Khrustalyov, My Car!". Film at Lincoln Center. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  2. ^ a b Brady, Tara (21 December 2018). "Khrustalyov, My Car! Maddening miscellany of Russian horrors". The Irish Times. The Irish Times DAC. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  3. ^ a b Bergan, Ronald (26 February 2013). "Aleksei German obituary". The Guardian. Guardian News & Media Limited. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  4. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Khrustalyov, My Car!". Festival de Cannes. Retrieved 30 September 2009.
  5. ^ a b "Khrustalyov, My Car! Blu-ray". Arrow Films. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  6. ^ a b Божович, Мария (March 2000). "Гениальность отчаяния. Французская пресса о фильме Алексея Германа "Хрусталев, машину!"". Iskusstvo Kino (in Russian). Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  7. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (14 December 2018). "Khrustalyov, My Car! review – delirious and visually amazing Russian gem". The Guardian. Guardian News & Media Limited. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  8. ^ "1999". Russian Guild of Film Critics.

External links