When I heard about the Russian-made movie titled Plan 9 from Aliexpress, I couldn’t help but wonder if it’s a parody of the online Chinese retail giant. Instead, it’s a very absurdist comedy cum fantasy I’m sure fans of Monty Python would love. In my case, I thought I was viewing an episode of iCarly (2007 version). That’s because of how the world reacts, as though knowing there’s a camera following them in their adventure, and broadcasting their antics to a streaming service like Twitch, for all to see.
According to seasoned filmmaker Diana Galimzyanova, her work is a trash comedy, and it contains some dark elements to it. In the official story synopsis: “When an unstable Gothic Princess (alternatively played by Ekaterina Dar, Elizaveta Shulyak and Lilit Karapetyan) wants to kill herself Prince Charming (Anton Medov) steals her rope, she must find him to get her rope back and commit suicide.”
And when she can’t locate this lad, that’s when she meets a baffling list of not so normal fantastical creatures. Some of them help her, and others try to hinder this lass’ efforts. One of which is a zombie unicorn! These beasts are not meant to be CGI perfect or look real. Instead, it’s like this filmmaker got Moscow’s cosplayers together, gave them a small budget to spend on their costumes, and then display their efforts for all to see. Other Japanese pop culture elements are light because I feel those school girl uniforms are very tell-tale!
When the narrative goes meta, that’s when the best moments manifests. One scene I loved was when one of the supporting characters broke the fourth wall and asked when will this video end? The timing of when that was said to me thinking the same thing at the same time, was like Galimzyanova understands her audience.
The best part of this experimental work is that she also shows how well she knows the history of cinema. The way she pays tribute to Kinetoscope, Silver Age (black and white, complete with a ragtime score), Golden Age (introducing Technicolor), Silver and modern day is very telling, and although the narrative flies everywhere, that’s okay! I also loved how all that classic celluloid transitions to digital, and gets 8-bit with the video game style aesthetics. When I heard some telltale Nintendo chiptunes, I was giddy with delight!
Galimzyanova’s film is very DIY. To call Plan 9 from Aliexpress surreal is an understatement. I’m guessing she’s a fan of Man Ray’s movies. If true, she’s a talent worth paying attention to for her Avant-garde style. I’ve even spoken to her and asked if I could check out her other compositions, Ivan the Wolf and the Gray Tsarevich. It’s like watching a poetry slam, something I don’t often get to do, and this modern version of the Russian fairy tale of the same name now has me wanting to take up studies of this Slavic nation’s folklore!
For the latest updates on where this work will screen at, please visit https://www.instagram.com/paakojsimpson/
4 Stars out of 5