March 14 on TNT the comedy series “Correction and Punishment” is released, in which Anna Mikhalkova played an employee of the colony-settlement Alena Neverova – a woman with a special approach to the re-education of prisoners.
According to the plot, the Verkholantsev family, her relatives in the father, an oligarch who died a ridiculous death under the church bell, suddenly came to visit Neverova. The Verkholantsevs could not get a huge inheritance – all the money was transferred to a foreign account, the key to which is allegedly kept by Neverova. The simple-minded Alena doesn’t know anything about money, but the Verkholantsevs don’t believe her, so they burn down her house to get to the truth they need.
The trick does not just not work – for it the majors get a term to serve in this very colony. Everyone who comes here is tested by the methods of Neverova, ready to make a man out of any scoundrel.
Neverova is one of the most unusual heroines played by Mikhalkova. It is interesting to break down her versatility into numbers to understand what a Russian-Soviet woman she is, who believes in the good in spite of everything.
Realistic “fantastic” heroine
Behind the realistic image of an ordinary Russian woman from the countryside and the comedic mask of an educator, ready to achieve good in any, even the most brutal ways, you can see the dramatic scope of the character. Alenushka Viktorovna, as her prisoners and staff call her, is not a conditional comedy unit, thanks to which she works with a sitcom. This is a deep, elaborate image, in which realism balances with fiction: Neverova is one hundred percent recognizable heroine, and such as she – unconditionally believing in the good – simply does not exist.
“At one point it became clear that we are digging quite deep, exploring several Russian mental traditions, which means we need a deep and at the same time popular actress. That’s how the image of Anna Nikitichna came about, – say the producers of the company Good Story Media, which invented the series. – And when Mikhalkova read the script of the first two series, she agreed to star in the pilot only on condition that this is our in-depth study will continue. Of course, this inspired us and made us even more responsible for our work. ”
The script, as we have already mentioned, was not written with the aim of inviting Anna Mikhalkova to the series – but in the process of filming it was adapted for her. Neverova’s image became wider and more precisely thanks to the proposals of the actress. For example, since its filing in the series there are references to Soviet films, cartoons and fairy tales.
In one scene, Neverov includes Jeanne, Verkholantsev’s young widow, his favorite film, D’Artagnan and the Three Musketeers, and advises him to pay special attention to the fate of the villain and seductress Milady. The good intention to arouse empathy in Jeanne with one of the most popular Soviet films turns into sadism when Alena rewinds the tape again and again, forcing Jeanne to watch the film around the clock – and this is the “beauty” of Neverova’s method.
An interesting fact: Neverova’s conviction that every person is good – you just need to give him a chance to discover this good in himself – shares Mikhalkov. She admitted this many times in interviews.
Alena Neverova has a background that the viewer will not know right away – let’s afford a small spoiler to immerse in the context. It turns out that Neverova does not know life outside the colony: she was born here when the elder Verkholantsev blamed her mother for organizing the financial pyramid and fled; she grew up here, buried her mother, and as if downstream, she herself became an employee of a colony stuck in Soviet timelessness. And in this timelessness with plywood cabinets and modest barracks, they heard nothing about the new psychology, non-violent methods of education, etc.
A portrait of Makarenko hangs in Neverova’s office, Leshchenko’s “Parents’ House” or “Let there always be sun” is sung on general prison holidays, and the perimeter of the colony is hung with quotes about labor and collectivism.
Neverova absorbed this culture with her mother’s milk, that’s why she broadcasts it to others – and hypertrophied, because this is the essence of comedy.
She wants to bring up the Oxford major Verkholantsev with the help of the fairy tale “The Wolf and the Seven Goats”. Jeanne is forced to talk to her parents, staging a fairy tale about a gingerbread man, and in the senior Verkholantseva, addicted to alcohol, he tries to awaken bright willpower with the help of the story “Danko” by Maxim Gorky.
Zakalka of the old school
According to a set of cultural references, Neverov is a child of the Soviet Union, flesh and blood of old-regime culture. Therefore, there are almost no mentions of foreign authors in the series – except for those that were recognized by the Soviet authorities, passed inside the Iron Curtain and published in millions of copies. This is a great friend of all Soviet teenagers Ray Bradbury, who opened the curtain on the world of Western capitalism Honore de Balzac and Goethe – Pushkin’s German “brother”. From each of them Neverova found quotes suitable for her method about mistakes, work and art – and in fact found them Mikhalkova, who worked carefully on the image.
The comedy of Mikhalkova’s image is that it is not necessary to be like her, who stands firmly on the ideals of Soviet culture. Although the colony portrayed in the series is stuck in timelessness, it still has staff who have managed to accept the new world – for example, one of the guards, who watches Yuri Dudy’s interview at lunch, and during working hours thinks how to warm the prisoners and benefit.
In this contrast between Soviet and modern, Neverova’s image becomes even brighter, but only until her fabulous technique fails and Alena turns into a monster ready to break a man for the sake of kindness and humiliate his dignity.
In general, the image of Alenushka Viktorovna Neverova and the series in general, which already in the title nods to the pillar of Russian classics Dostoevsky, can be explained by another quote from another novel – “Brothers Karamazov”: “Wide man, too wide, I would narrow.”
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