Igor Krutoy, Lara Fabian and Alan Badoev's "Mademoiselle Zhivago": A Clip-by-Clip Description - Part 2.
"The Family" - Not Always A Safe Haven
"The Family" strikes an emotional chord in a way that many other clips fail to achieve. Conceived by Lara Fabian herself to illustrate the dramatic story of the song "Llora", the third clip of Mademoiselle Zhivago touches on the sensitive subject of domestic violence towards women. The quiet and trembly wife of a famous Spanish paintor is the best-developed character in the whole of Zhivago, with well-blended nuances of love (or, at least, care), fear, trauma, but also determination.
The previous clips showed how society and love can both be overwhelming independently. Together, though, they can be downright lethal. Too many women still suffer in silence under the abuses of men who don't know how to love. As the powerful last line of "Llora" says, those cannot be real men at all. While many modern societies, as a whole, do not support this practice, the same doesn't apply to all individual households, nor to all the societies in the world. In parts of the Middle East, for example, men are still granted every right and women are still worth less than animals. Unless these societies change at their core, love will always be damaged and damaging, if there is any love at all.
The worst possible ending to this story, which we don't get to know if it's no more than a possibility or what actually happened, is seen in the opening image of the clip, which is also the opening image of this second part of the article: death, a painful, undeserved death. The character in this story does run away with her children in the end of the story, aided by a trusted friend that the woman herself resorted to after yet another beating was the last drop for her. In real life, it is often too late for many women to do the same.
All in all, this was the simplest and one of the most realistic clips, with a clear storyline and moral message for the viewers. It was emotional without being visually aggressive and shows the direction that could have been taken for some of the other clips, if they really did have to be individual stories, instead of interconnected pieces of film. Sometimes, such as in "Toccami", the intention behind the clip is not as clear as it should, regardless of the cinematographic quality. Still, viewers are always free to imagine ways of connecting the dots. This long series is no more than an attempt at doing exactly that.
"Lou" - What If Death Is Actually A Liberation?
In "The Same Karenin Family", death was the way that the main character found to become free of her repression. In "Lou", this message is reinforced in a particularly dramatic way that evokes the extreme distress in the concentration camps in World War II.
The concentration camp seen in this clip was completely built from scratch just for the video shooting, with some digital enhancements to complete the scenery. Here, a perfectly characterized female prisoner forced to be away from her baby daughter Lou - the name of Lara Fabian's own 5-year-old daughter -, apparently hidden somewhere in the camp (babies used to be instantly killed by the camp guards, as they were useless for them), dreams of the day when they will be reunited as she sings about her sweet blue eyes and her heart, which she imagines flying around the world looking for freedom.
The deep love for her child was the only thing that protected this woman from the random shootings that were taking place in the camp, and other women were infected with this intense feeling, dancing together as they cradled babies that could only be imagined in their arms. Those who were not dancing were actually throwing themselves into the bullets as an exit to their pain. Lou herself was about to be caught, protected until the end by a man that is probably her father and a fellow prisoner. It's in this atmosphere of absolutely no hope that the woman's love is too great to continue keeping her alive. The screen is already black as the ultimate gun shot is heard, after the gates were opened to allow her to meet her baby forever.
Maybe this death is a reflection of her soul's experience in "The Same Karenin Family", maybe the love for her child is akin to the love that the battered wife felt for her children in "The Family". Regardless of that, this clip forces us not to forget the horrific things that mankind is capable of when hatred is the dominant force. Definitely, along with "The Family", the most emotional clip, and also the one that was better crafted in that sense. Very convincing acting from Lara Fabian.
"Mademoiselle Hyde" - Visual Extravaganza
The strongest song of "Mademoiselle Zhivago" (along with "Vocalise") has the most impressive cinematography, in a once again decadent scenario where we remember the powers of a questionable addiction. In this case, it is that of a man to a female vampire.
This clip almost feels like a sister of "Toccami", because of the sexual undertone - or overtone, actually - that returns here in full force. There are several important differences, though. Here, Lara Fabian shows that she already learned her lesson. She is not the prey, she is the predator. She is just as luscious and sensual, but she is not the one being manipulated and used - the addicted male is the true victim. In fact, he seems to be the main character here, not Lara, and he voices a narration (an element that was also only seen in "Toccami" up until now) that sets the story perfectly.
Lara is either literally called Morphine or is the metaphorical personification of the drug, which, in the end, ends up being the same thing. A red-haired vampire queen, she inhabits the dreams of a man that can no longer live without seeing her and uses morphine to meet her repeatedly. However, this comes at a morbid cost: for each encounter with her, one of his body parts has to be offered to a boatman played by Alan Badoev himself, the director of M. Zhivago. We see the cut fingers, the cut hand, the wound in his shoulder where his arm used to be. We see the palace where all the other vampires participate in what seem like orgies showered with this unlikely visitor's blood. It's gore, it's dirty, it can be shocking for many. These are the reasons why I also think it's perfect. The special effects were turned on to the max in here and the result is visually spectacular. It's understandable why this was one of the most challenging clips to craft.
Using the addiction to this vampire as a way of approaching drug addiction was very original and unexpected. In the end, it is clear how drugs consume people as much as people consume drugs, until life itself is lost in this vicious cycle.
Drugs will always exist, waiting for their next victim just like this vampire will continue wandering in her palace until another man or woman (gender is no constraint in this clip) gives in to the temptation. It is up to people not to take them in ways that damage them. Morphine itself does have beneficial medical uses. But too much of an apparently good thing can kill. The message was delivered and the aggressive images may have been intentionally shown to forcefully sensitize people to this matter. It is unfortunate that, for many, the only feelings that remain are either amazement because of the visuals or shock because of the crudeness. Not every viewer is necessarily taking a concrete message out of this clip, but the director does not need to do any more than he has already done. At the most, one could argue that he could have done less, gone less far. That will depend on each viewer's sensitivity.
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The newest and long awaited album of Lara Fabian, to be released in April 15, 2013, with 17 new songs and several musical interludes that provide a unique and continuous musical experience lasting for almost two hours. Get immersed in this universe!
The album that serves as the foundation for the entire project of Mademoiselle Zhivago. Discover the songs that inspired the videos.