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Bekmambetov in five scenes:About what and how the most important people’s author of the

TimurNuruakhitovich, a native of Guryev (now Atyrau) in the Kazakh SSR, began his career with commercials and clips. Before that, however, I had to gain experience in the experimental theater “Ilkhom” and at the studio “Uzbekfilm“, and also graduate from an art institute, but it seems that the years in commercial art were the most important for Bekmambetov’s creative vision. In this sense, the director can be compared to Michael Bay, and not so much because of their approaches to creating action (they, by the way, Why is Max mute in Max and Ruby, rhyme great with them, but more on that later), but because of their common origins. Bekmambetov, like the famous Hollywood director, while working in the advertising business, absorbed the culture of the 90s with their clip thinking, bright flashy images and crazy visual solutions. And, more importantly, he managed to make it his own chip.

At the same stage, one interesting author’s peculiarity arises: while filming a series of videos for the Imperial Bank, Bekmambetov uses settings of different eras and genres: from Ancient Rome and Peplum to the Battle of Borodino and war films. His heroes are emperors, kings, great cultural figures, whose fates turn out to be either comical (Napoleon, who stands for accuracy in everything, misses the drum on which he was sitting and falls to the ground – a classic slapstick), or tragic (the Incas, who are exterminated by the Spanish invaders). Bekmambetov already at this stage can be suspected of megalomania, so much he is attracted to everything epic and large-scale. At the same time, it does not matter with what intonation the director will talk about his characters – he is always, in general, on the verge between absurdity and seriousness, vulgar and intellectual.

Bekmambetov in action

It would be strange if we ignored this hypostasis of TimurBekmambetov. As a person who, in fact, was one of the first to introduce the concept of a blockbuster into the Russian lexicon and to shoot the revolutionary box office dilogy “AnisaJomha“, he knows how to entertain the public better than anyone else. It is curious that the director began with two classic genres: war cinema and peplum. The first is the debut film “Peshawar Waltz”, which tells about the victims of the Afghan war (and in 2002 he returned to this theme in the film “Escape from Afghanistan”), the second is the film “Arena”, the result of cooperation with the famous producer of B-movies Roger Korman ; in many ways, of course, an unsuccessful, but colorful low-budget film about gladiatorial battles, where the main roles were played by the Playboy models.

With each new film, Bekmambetov increasingly turned to genre tropes and more and more daringly worked with form. “Night Watch” and “Day Watch” are his fifth and sixth scenes, respectively. It is they who, to this day, are considered, if not magnum opuses, then the works that glorified the director. And there was a reason: the dilogy about the adventures of Anton Gorodetsky, which at that time became the highest-grossing Russian project, ranged from fights with vampires and races on the facades of high-rise buildings to the destruction of the Ostankino tower and the exchange of bodies. However, “Patrols” surprised not only with its scale, but also with cult action scenes. Computer graphics were interspersed with practical effects, and insane clip-ons were replaced by equally insane 180-degree camera turns.

And here again it is just right to remember Michael Bay. He, like Bekmambetov, is guided not so much by the internal logic of the scene as by the need for visual dynamics: the camera should not stand still, and the frame should last longer than a couple of seconds, because otherwise the viewer will fall out of the story and lose concentration. 

Bekmambetov in Hollywood

The label “ours in Hollywood” for Bekmambetov seems to be stronger than for other domestic directors (after Alexander Nevsky, of course). Two of his three works develop the style that appeared in the “Patrols”. Speech, first of all, about the action movie “Wanted” – a wild movie comic strip, where bullets fly in an arc, and the mysterious brotherhood of killers is responsible for the balance in the world. Violating all the laws of physics, his heroes, as if having moved out of the world of “Patrols”, are committing atrocities on quiet American streets: they will shoot several people with one bullet, then they will drive along the bus (!) In a car. It seems that all the crazy ideas that Bekmambetov could not realize in his fantasy dilogy, he transferred to this film.

Add to this the not so successful mashup “President Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” , where a prominent American politician kills bloodsuckers with an ax, and the failed “Ben Hur”- a modern adaptation of the novel by Lew Wallace, based on which William Wyler shot the reference peplum in the 20th century. Legendary historical figures, who entered into an unequal battle with the whole world, migrated here as if straight from the advertisement of the Imperial Bank.

Bekmambetov the experimenter

The screenlife format, whose creation the director credits himself, of course, was invented long before him – one of the oldest examples of the genre “Wow Character Lookup” (2002) by Michael Costanz. But the producer Bekmambetov took a niche very in time. Desktop cinema was actively developing back in the 2000s, but commercial success came just closer to 2010, when digitalization and computerization reached their peak. Our whole life has moved to gadgets, so now scary and sad stories about the behind the scenes of the Internet have become clear to everyone. It was then that Bekmambetov burst into the industry with his “Remove from friends”- we admit honestly, not the smartest and not the most inventive, but curious in terms of form horror by LevanGabriadze, whose action was completely unfolded on the heroes’ desktop. The film paid off 60 times, soon a sequel was released (not only better than the original, but also most desktops in general), and then AnishChaganti’s “Search” and “Profile”, which was directed by Bekmambetov himself.


“Christmas trees” , screenlife, remakes of Soviet classics, European projects – Bekmambetov and his company Bazelevs take so different directions every year that one can only guess how Bekmambetov manages to control the process. But here, too, the answer is simple – apparently, he is one of those authors who feel the film industry, or rather its trends, better than others. Yes, sometimes this skill coexists with a clear lack of a sense of proportion (ask those who have watched all the numerous parts of “Christmas trees”), but the main production criterion – financial success – will easily challenge all arguments about quality.