“America is obsessed with creating commodity” – Russian film guru

“I was failing in Hollywood… thank God!” recalls Andrey Konchalovsky – the man behind “Tango and Cash” and “Runaway Train” –– one of the few Russian directors whose name is familiar in the West.

“I think the most important mistake America made is to equal time to money,” veteran Russian filmmaker said in an exclusive interview with RT.

But, first and foremost, what made him exchange Hollywood for Russia, back in the eighties?

“I was failing in Hollywood, thank God!” If I would be more successful in Hollywood and made more commercial movies and had more offers in commercials, maybe I would stay there and maybe I would become a commercial director. And I’m very happy it didn’t happen.”

“Those who cannot make big money are compelled to make real art,” Konchalovsky told RT’s Valeria Paikova.


Duet For One by Andrey Konchalovsky (kinopoisk.ru)
“Americans are extremely laborious people and very inventive, very technologically-obsessed. And I think it’s very important because this is a nation that has very young culture, 200 years-250 years old. It’s nothing when you compare it to human civilization. American culture, I’d say, is the most advanced in all senses including the harmful part of it. America is obsessed with creating commodity. Everything is commodity. If you can sell it, it becomes art, as well. And today even more than, let’s say, 25 or 50 years ago…”

“Americans try to make commodity out of time – ‘time is money’. But time has no price, and the most expensive time is time when you contemplate. It can be sitting on the seashore, it can be church, it can be meditation, it can be just listening to music, but contemplation is absolutely priceless. It should be important for people to be so generous as to give time to their own spiritual balance. That’s why I think the most important mistake America made is to equate time to money.”

Has he ever dreamt of having his own star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame?

“Well, I wouldn’t mind, but I am not going to give up everything to have it… I prefer to have another child,” replied the father of seven, Konchalovksy. “I wouldn’t mind having the eighth. That’s the real star!”

Comparing the earnings of Hollywood movie stars and their Russian counterparts, Russians seem to be way underpaid! Does Konchalovsky agree with this, and how interested is he in making money?


The Nutckracker in 3-D (image from kinopoisk.ru)
“It’s a strange trend to compare salaries. I think it’s all not very healthy. Theatre is one of the areas where actors are all underpaid. They can make much more money shooting series, television or some kind of rubbish, etc, etc. So why are they going to theatre? Why are they going on stage to be underpaid? Because they value time not as money, they value their own time more precious than money. That’s why a theatre actor for me deserves not only respect but also adoration.”

He’s worked with A-list American and Russian actors. Who is more obsessed with their celebrity status?

“People are vain, everyone should be vain – it’s normal. Those who are not obsessed with their success are either mad or childish, which is basically the same. A mature person wants to be successful. In America it’s even more important because it guarantees your next job; in Europe less, in Russia even less…You can fail completely, everyone is going to be very happy, and you can have another job!”

Having no job is nothing to fret about for Konchalovsky, whose current cinematic challenge is a classic fairytale set to the music by Tchaikovsky – “The Nutckracker”

Shot in 3-D and staring Elle Fanning and John Turturro, the film is scheduled to be released later this year.

Valeria Paikova, RT