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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

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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