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Igor Krutoy, Lara Fabian and Alan Badoev's "Mademoiselle Zhivago": A Clip-by-Clip Description - Part 1.

Updated on April 14, 2013
Lara Fabian in Mademoiselle Zhivago.
Lara Fabian in Mademoiselle Zhivago. | Source
The project's official cover.
The project's official cover. | Source

After two years of waiting, during which strong creative differences between Lara Fabian and Alan Badoev nearly kept this project from ever being released, everyone in the world is now finally able to see Mademoiselle Zhivago, a complex musical video project based on a homonymous music album composed by Igor Krutoy, with lyrics and voice by Lara Fabian.

After the hugely successful diffusion of the album in Eastern Europe from 2010 onwards, supported by a tour that included 4 concerts in a repeatedly sold out Kremlin Palace, in Moscow, here comes the long awaited conclusion to this story, reportedly inspired by Boris Pasternak's novel "Doctor Jhivago". The musical "film" premiered in Kiev, Ukraine and Moscow, Russia in April 5 and 6, 2013, respectively. In April 12, it was made fully available in Youtube, for a limited period of time. Does it live up to the expectations? Read below for a very long and thorough personal subjective reading.

Mademoiselle Zhivago: 8 clips, 8 stories

At its conception, the project was supposed to include 9+ separate videoclips, portraying one single soul that lived several distinct lives in different periods of history, gathering, in each one of them, experiences and memories that eventually converged at the end to define the very essence of her being.

However, the final version of "Zhivago" - as seen in Youtube, at least, since an upcoming DVD release in June 2013 may contain an extended version - has only 8 clips, with hardly any clear connection between them. A comparison between everything that was filmed in 2010 (available for anyone to see through official "making of" footage) and what actually made the final cut suggests that some heavy changes were done to the original film, a probable reflection of the conflict between Fabian and Badoev, the former wanting more "light" than the latter was willing to show, with his dark and unapologetic artistic vision.

Still, despite the lack of a clear logical sequence and of a true ending that wraps everything together, the work put in the creation of these 8 individual clips is impressive in and of itself and certainly enough to keep the viewers very entertained and involved, even if possibly confused at the end.

"Toccami" - An ode to decadence

Lara Fabian in "Toccami".
Lara Fabian in "Toccami". | Source
Lara Fabian in "Toccami".
Lara Fabian in "Toccami". | Source

"Mademoiselle Zhivago" repeatedly touches on the theme of entrapment vs. freedom, and love tends to be always at the center of it, in one way or another. "Toccami", as the opening clip, is the one that immediately establishes this common link. The introductory narration is mysterious and seductive, and the visuals impress right from the beginning, by the elegant depiction of a man in black and a woman in white dancing in different places, in different ways, to the very same beat - the song of a woman in full control and acceptance of her sensuality and sexuality.

Here, Fabian is a prostitute who knowingly and willingly let herself become slave to the unrelenting passion of a man who makes her feel like "a goddess", as she herself confesses. She knows it's a dark, somber love, but it is one that ended up defining her entire life. Curiously, the very last word with which she describes this feeling is "free". Indeed, the videoclip displays a woman absolutely free of the moral constraints of society and ready to immerse herself in pure lust, as she is tossed around, in more than one occasion, within a group of faceless people responding to her command: "toccami" - "touch me". The clip also includes scenes of her in bed with her lover, who she marks with a knife just before all the sexual energy she holds within her body can no longer be contained in the room where they are together. The bursting of the walls sets the tone for the rest of the video, with great images of a fierce dance sequence in a bar with fire burning wild and hardly anything left intact by the end.

Lara Fabian in "Toccami".
Lara Fabian in "Toccami". | Source

"Toccami" celebrates decadence and sin, instead of condemning it. However, the character's freedom from societal expectations (and the power that apparently emerges from it) can't hide the fact that she is held captive by the love and lust she feels, even if with her own acceptance. Fabian seems to be strong all the way, but one has to note that the clip started with her actually being thrown out of a car onto the floor - hardly a position of power. The clip also ends with her gasping for air lying down on the floor. The opening line for this clip is "What if love brought you down to your knees?". That is exactly what happens. Love grants Fabian the illusion of being fully alive and in control when it actually sucks all the power out of her and leaves her weak in the end, weak as she truly is, cutting a man with one knife but eventually being made to stare at many, many more, circling right over her head. Does she actually have real worth without her man, or the many other men and women who touch her freely? Do prostitutes in real life have any true sense of self-worth? Love (or lack of it) does come with a price.

"The Same Karenin Family" - Tale of a Desperate Housewife

Lara Fabian in "The Same Karenin Family".
Lara Fabian in "The Same Karenin Family". | Source
Lara Fabian in "The Same Karenin Family".
Lara Fabian in "The Same Karenin Family". | Source

No one died in "Toccami", at least overtly. It's even surprising, since, in every other clip that follows, death is present, directly or indirectly. In fact, in "The Same Karenin Family", inspired in the story of Anna Karenina, it is death, not just fragility, that is the price of love.

This is the story of a 19th century woman who is trapped in a life of aristocratic make-believe and finds a way out of her cage by having an affair under the nose of her husband. The soundtrack to this clip is "Desperate Housewife", a very fitting title to describe this character's situation. She is the opposite of the fierce prostitute: it's society that traps her and love that sets her free, and the sins she commits are hidden from public view - for example, in the privacy of a dense forest - instead of displayed as a trophy. Despite that, her husband, clearly a man who doesn't deviate nor tolerates deviations from whatever society sets as the standard, does come to realize what's happening. Too weak to openly do something about it, aside from carrying his wife away from the field where the angles of this love triangle finally confront each other, the character's husband gets his wife's lover ambushed and killed in secret, finally being able to return to a life of commodity and hypocrisy where his wife does not embarass him anymore.

Lara Fabian starts off cold and barely expressive (not always as accomplished in her acting, here). She is truly a robot in her daily life, silently fighting her way through a probably repetitive and meaningless prayer before a meal, as was expected of them to do. As the only reason for her to smile and laugh - to emote! - is violently taken away, her coldness turns into pure ice and her inner turmoil finally overwhelms her up to the point where death feels like the only solution left. Her suicide scene, set to the first part of "Vocalise", introduces a musical theme that was a glimpse of the much needed vital link between all of the stories. Unfortunately, we get no more of those for the remainder of "Mademoiselle Zhivago".

In "The Same Karenin Family", we see how society can consume us, just like in "Toccami" we saw how going to the other extreme and giving in to our every desire can have the same effect. Even love can consume us. Join the toxicities of love and society's standards together and you have the emotional recipe for "The Family", described in part 2 of this showcase of the project. Click here or continue reading below to find the link to part 2.

Lara Fabian in "The Same Karenin Family".
Lara Fabian in "The Same Karenin Family". | Source

Also, discover the newest album of Lara Fabian, Le Secret

Mademoiselle Zhivago and other recommended works

1.
Mademuazel' Zhivago (CD)
Mademuazel' Zhivago (CD)

The album that serves as the foundation for the entire project of Mademoiselle Zhivago. Discover the songs that inspired the videos.

 

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      Nat Wil 5 weeks ago

      Cont'd(final):

      Have you seen her performances, whether in concert or a music video? Do you see her facial expression and her body language? She is the best I have experience since 2008, and none other to date can hold a candle next to this wonderful sensation (singer, song writer, actress, musician, and who knows what else in the artistic world she has done). Overall, your expose was well done. And as always, I have yet to come across a performance of Lara that hasn’t brought me great pleasure and at times comfort (especially during both my deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan..and especially shortly after my dog was murdered).

    • profile image

      Nat Wil 5 weeks ago

      Cont'd:

      What you said, “easily takes one right out of it as soon as it starts…” that is the whole point of the song and the video. Look at the lyrics of the song. Have you done so? From what you have written, you have indeed acknowledge that the lyrics matches her breaking from reality. So in the world would you want the upbeat song be dark and gloomy and not continue with the break that she has from reality? Why would someone break to happy place and have this happy place be field with something dark and somber? I say, heck yes! The bubbly upbeat music does it tremendous justice. As far as the “superhero face,” that point was completely loss to you in this sense. That was no super hero face at all. That is the face of someone breaking from reality after seeing a toddler girl being trapped in a car that she could not get out that she knows is about to blow up right now. That is what some folks would call the “thousand yard stare”. When someone cannot deal with reality any more. So once that break from reality happens, that is when ALL the bubbly happiness occurs. When she delivered her child, she was still in that happy reality- not a place where there is death or dying. She is in a regular hospital giving birth to a child and her husband is not at war or away, but simply at work and she is having them call him to tell him that she delivered their baby early. As far as, “it is always an emotionally striking and beautiful image” as it pertains to the birthing process. I would say the many people that delivers a baby on a daily basis or witness the miracle of child being born….even though it is miraculous- I don’t see anything beautiful about a baby ripping it’s way through a very tight vaginal wall that is smaller than the head of the child being burned. This is a very traumatic physical experience, and thanks to the help of modern western medicine such as epidural- this can lesson some of that painful traumatic physical experience of something being forcefully expelled/ripped from the body. I think showing that would not have added at all to her break from reality and would not add anything to what the video was about. At the end of the day, if someone wants to watch a bunch of youtube birthing videos, they can do so. There was no wondering if they were going to make or not make it. You can see very clearly from the sounds you can hear. Her pushing, and then seeing the baby being delivered very shortly thereafter did not leave any sense of suspense of whether mother and child would make it alive. The fact that the shanti of an hospital that they are in which is being shot up while they are still trying to save lives gives us enough explicit picture of if anyone in this video clip will be still alive at the end of the day is enough in and of itself. Maybe, I am just overly critical because you make such wonderful points, and in the moment when something was overly critical- you missed it. Maybe it is the fact that I have worked in the medical field as a military medic, that have been deployed twice and have seen the horrors of what the battlefield done not only to the patients I am taking care of…but my fellow coworkers and the dramatic effect it has on them (which we are NEVER the same ever again)…and the fact that the ones that physically survive the war either end their lives later because they could live with the pain of it all later. I don’t know. But as someone that has experience this more up close and personal (that didn’t miss the detachment from reality…because I have seen it myself….and have gone off on mini-breaks, although not to the extent of this video). This also continue to show the great importance child/ren are to Lara/Zhivago (her protecting her unborn child, her helping the little boy, her attempt to help the toddler girl- and when this wasn’t feasible- she broke completely from reality for the remainder of the video).

      I believe the next video in the series was “Mama”- mother abandoned child. As we can see, “Lou” was about Lara’s own daughter….she clearly did not abandon her in this. “Mama” is for her mother whom she loves tremendously…..I believe the reason this video did not come to fruition was that this completely crossed the line for Lara….and even though it is art and not reality…this is something she refused to compromised on (as she would never abandon her own child….and this song that is an anthem to the mother she loves greatly, she could not deface such a sacrilegious thing).

      LOL, we could say “Ever Land” was also cheesy if we wanted to be semantical about things. As far as Mr President goes, we don’t actively see anyone actually dying….but those actual war tanks in the news clipping are definitely not for peace…but to kill. So even though we don’t see it vividly as in Lou and Ever Land…it is still occurring. Even when it is not in the news, believe me- it is still occurring and will continue to occur as long as there are more than 1 human existing on planet Earth. The climate changing….us cutting down the rain forest, polluting our environment, raiding things to continue to facilitate wars (and Hiroshima and Nagasaki), etc. I would say nothing in this director’s video clip is random. if you blink, or is not aware of all the moving parts something very important can be overlooked. I don’t know much about climate changes but I would say that some of the things I mentioned previously has had an effect that have negatively impacted the Earth. The message of the video and your overall expose is something I agree with (with the exception of calling it cheesy and saying that the climate change was random).

      Winter’s Bouquet, objectively speaking before I typed up on Ever Land, I agree with your assessment to about 95%. Now I have to point out the things that I disagree with that adds up to more than 5%. The reality intended my the major players of the video (primarily the vision of Badoev) has shown that primarily war is what has shaped this woman’s life throughout 5 of the 8 clips. If they didn’t want to focus on war at all, then they would show an idyllic scene in the streets of Paris during an era where there is no solider marching or a man having scars on his hands from the war, or that very man having nightmares from said war. So I beg to differ on that perspective, both war and love were both equally important in this clip. The “notable” performance of some singer name Max Barskih that did not sing in this video is no more notable than the male that performed in Toccami, nor the male that performed in Mademoiselle Hyde, nor the boy that performed in Ever Land. So, bring his name up and mentioning that is performance was “notable” detracts from your expose (which apart from the thousand yard stare break from reality that you missed, you have done a phenomenal job on overall). You sound some what jaded on love by describing their love story as “cheesy”. There are several different adjectives I would use to describe the 3 days that they spend together…..and cheese would not touch any of those descriptors. Most everything else that you mentioned I agree with. When Lara/Zhivago freaked out on the roof however, it is during that time for sure that she then became aware of all the other traumas that her 37 lives have lived through (and who knows- maybe to a certain extent she even had a premonition of what was to become of her current lover).

      Conclusion, Mademoiselle Zhivago is a masterpiece. The cohesive quality if watched only once with no other background information would leave people not realizing the bigger picture behind the whole thing. Even though the overall theme that this woman has lived 38 lives and these were all the same person would have been lost to everyone, this doesn’t diminish the fact that each of the work presented in their individual pieces were complete in and of themselves and were superbly done. Lara Fabian does not have “acting potential,” she has always been a superb actress(saying someone that has potential about a talent they already have is disrespectful, I see more talent in her than some of those Hollywood A-types at some point in their career at one point or another).

      TBC

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      Nat Wil 5 weeks ago

      I discovered Mademoiselle Zhivago in 2013 and your expose on it in either late 2013 or early 2014. Since then, I have watched Mademoiselle Zhivago at least 20+ times in it's entirety and some of my favourite in piece deals. I do concur that the eight pieces of masterpiece (because, after all that is what they are by definition of the word: a work of outstanding artistry, skill, or workmanship) were not clearly connected or seem to tell a cohesive story without any clear introduction nor ending to it. Your article on the work was the first to clue me in that they were supposed to connected. At the beginning of 2017 when doing further research, I found several clips on the making of this artwork, and also a short interview clip with Lara stating the interconnectedness of this woman and her 38 lives that she has lived.

      I have given my own interpretation on the 8 videos, and while I agree with most of what you have said, there are a few things that I have interpreted that I have decided to sign up so I can finally comment on to your exposition to this work.

      On Toccami, I see a little more into just the surface area that you spoke on. For instance, Lara herself is dressed in black- while there is a white cross on the front of her dress (is this a reflection of the Western philosophy of black equal darkness and white equal lightness), thus showing that even a soul that is perceived to be darkened have a smidgen of light in it...thus no truly evil (nor light person, as I perceive the woman dancing in white with the "black cross" on her dress to be possibly Lara own dual self/soul and even so is not completely pure either). Thus the yin and yang being separated from each other as we see both characters in Toccami possibly being separated(as seen by the symbol on the yin yang where yin has a small amount of light/white and the yang has a small amount of darkness/black). At the ending of the video, with Lara(the dark side) falling possibly to her death, while her light side dances on, does this mean that she after all triumphed over her so-called dark side? Does one embracing their sensuality and sexuality mean that they have devolved into darkness? This introduction of Lara's duality is definitely a grand introduction that if examined closely through all the clips are present to certain degree but of course is more so obvious in what I agree with you as Mademoiselle Hyde being a counterpart/sister/even twin to Toccami.

      As far as Desperate Housewife goes, the only thing that I could add to what you have said is the fact that this piece follows the Karenin family in that it very clearly mirrors Anna Karenina's life in Lara, to include the suicide...because even though Anna's lover was not murdered, she just could not live in a life where she was not accepted by the masses, in Lara's reality- she didn't care about appearances so much as she did love. A very important theme was introduced in Desperate Housewife, that was carried throughout 5 out of 8 of the videos (and from another fan out there that mentioned a 9th video which is quite obvious from the making of video clips that there was indeed a 9th one: "Mama- what if mother abandoned child" which would be have been the counterpart/sister/even twin to Lou). So the important theme here is child/ren and the importance they play to this woman's 38 lives....even more so than romantic love which was a much smaller version of the overall whole. So in Desperate Housewife, even though it pains Lara greatly to leave her son (and possibly her toddler daughter that was seen in at least one shot upstairs though the window) behind- in that present life, she saw no better way out in the 19th century where a woman was basically did not have as much right as they do in the 20th and the 21st century. The 38 lives of Lara/Zhivago reminds me of the Witchblade TV series that ran 2 seasons (2001-2002) in that Sara Pezzini also lived many lives....in that series at first we were led to believe that these lives were linear but then it was disclosed that time is in fact not linear....thus these lives are all being lived parallel and in conjunction with each other. So in fact, the 8th different lives as portrayed (Tocammi - 20th or 21st century; Desperate Housewife - 19th century; Llora and Ever Land, Mr President- 20th or 21st century; Russian Fairy Tale and Lou, - 20th century; Mademoiselle Hyde- 20th or 21st century (the protagonist, yet Lara is more than likely the eldest in the characterization as being the Queen Vampire would imply she is at least centuries old).

      The only thing that I have to add to what you said about Llora is that I view this as the most positive out of ALL 8 lives shown (of her 38 lived lives). Because even though the video clip started off with showing a possible reality of would could happen to Lara/Zhivago, we see her getting the courage to leave with her children from an abusive life. Thankfully she was in a culture and time that enable her to do so. Because in Desperate Housewife, even if she had the courage to leave her husband, she would not have had the opportunity to take her child/ren with her...not especially from the clout of her rich and powerful husband. So the fact that she triumphed with her most prized/cherished thing to her- her children....big win for her indeed!

      In Lou, I agree with most of what you said with the exception of I don't agree that the women were "[throwing themselves into the bullets]". Not at all. The ones that were not caught up into the fugue state that Lara was in were going about their tasks and snippers took direct aim and shot them....no one trying to commit suicide in this video as a means to end their torment, I recommend watching the video clip again without the bias thought of these people trying to kill themselves. That finale picture of Lara gazing directly into the eyes of the guard, was her saying: "fool, I am already free....your bullets and your camp cannot hurt nor hold me any more". And in this situation where there was no freedom to be with her daughter- death was indeed a liberator where she could be with her fairy/baby girl/little star/angel.

      Mademoiselle Hyde, while I agree with your interpretation to about 98% of what you said, I would not agree with Lara/Zhivago "learning her lesson"- life is not about learning any lesson so to speak as it is to “live it”. And Toccami and Mademoiselle Hyde if we are looking at the surrounding pieces (clothing of the male protagonist, the car in Toccami....I would say that they are currently happening within the same era....hence my theory on lives being non-linear stands.....as Lou and Russian Fairy Tale happened during WWII). So there can be no lessoned truly learned from one life to the next really ;). What I did notice however is the duality that I had mentioned as represented by the colour clothing in Toccami (yin/dark and yang/light). Once the protagonist became Mr. Hyde he was now fully in black to imply he has now taken on Lara/Zhivago/Morphine darkness. If you watch the video for the changes in colour of their clothing from start to finish, Morphine was completely shrouded in her black cloak. By the time they touch telepathically we saw pieces of her white starting to show. By the time they touched physically Morphine was primarily in white. Once the protagonist die to the physical realm and crossed over to the potentially "Elysian Fields" he is in complete black. Does Black equal good/freedom and the reverse being true? Would this be the same as Toccami? Also, the duality that was barely hint at in Toccami as I referenced earlier that the Lady dancing in white was actually Lara also, in Mademoiselle Hyde- she clearly states that “[she the] kind of mind [that is] torn in two,” this outright shows her duality nature explicitly here.

      Ever Land is where you and I primarily part ways in our interpretation. Perfection as beauty, is definitely in the eye of the beholder. The very things that you view as imperfection, I see them differently and view them differently. The director’s intent and Lara’s intent may be something other than what I view here.

      TBC