Lenin’s Body Wins Best Screenplay Award
“Lenin’s Body,” an American screenplay based on a novel by renowned author Alan Nafzger, won Best Screenplay and three other awards Saturday after voting by members of the Russian Society of Film Critics.
The Russian film critics also gave Lenin’s Body (optioned by Channel One) the Best Vision, Best Original Script and Most Controversial awards.
Lenin’s Body Plot Summary
The film tells the story of two drunks that steal Lenin’s Body the night before it’s supposed to be buried. Nafzger uses a magical realism technique to critique the Soviet Union’s crazy use of Lenin in propaganda. The fiction mechanism that makes it all possible is a magic vodka, laces with rattlesnake venom.
Nafzger’s Creative Muse
Nafzger earned his Ph.D. from University-College in Dublin with an expertise in Leninist propaganda. He has repeated several times the story’s genesis. He was on a phone call with a Russian book publisher, pitching a story where Lenin (and the other revolutionists) was a vampire when the publisher mentioned that it had already been done. She suggest that he have a look at a newspaper article where the Minister of Culture suggested burying Lenin’s body. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s position was to delay
The Russian invasion of the Crimean peninsula and the economic sanctions delayed the production of the film. The original option expired after five years and the film script is on the market again.
Mocking Lenin’s REAL Body
Lenin’s Mausoleum (from 1953 to 1961 Lenin’s & Stalin’s Mausoleum) (Russian: Мавзолей Ленина, tr. Mavzoley Lenina, also known as Lenin’s Tomb, situated on Red Square in the centre of Moscow, is a mausoleum that serves as the resting place of Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin. His preserved body has been on public display there since shortly after his death in 1924, with rare exceptions in wartime. Alexey Shchusev’s diminutive but monumental granite structure incorporates some elements from ancient mausoleums, such as the Step Pyramid, the Tomb of Cyrus the Great and, to some degree, the Temple of the Inscriptions.
One of the main problems the embalmers faced was the appearance of dark spots on the skin, especially on the face and hands. They managed to solve the problem by the use of a variety of different reagents. While working on ways to preserve Lenin’s body, Boris Zbarsky invented a new way to purify medical chloroform used for preservation. For example, if a patch of wrinkling or discoloration occurred it was treated with a solution of acetic acid and ethyl alcohol diluted with water. Hydrogen peroxide could be used to restore the tissues’ original colouring. Damp spots were removed by means of disinfectants such as quinine or phenol.
Until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the continued preservation work was funded by the Soviet government. At that point the government discontinued financial support and private donations then supported the preservation staff. In 2016 the Russian government reversed its earlier decision and said it planned to spend 13 million rubles to preserve the body.
Lenin’s Body Script Sample
We hear patriotic Soviet era music.
As the opening credits flash, we see black and white film footage (and then color) of the entire history of the Soviet Union – chronological from 1917 to 1991.
The music is slowly replaced with the sounds of a busy Moscow restaurant.
The P.O.V. shifts and a different series of images appear — the interior of a contemporary Moscow restaurant, well dressed successful Russians sitting down for a meal, the men’s watches, the ladies jewelry, fine leather shoes, a few close up shots of nearly gourmet quality plates presented expertly, the amounts and types of liquor on shelves behind the bar. Nothing is gray in contemporary Russia. Also people are talking, the level of noise in the restaurant tells us we are in a different era. Clearly this isn’t the USSR anymore!
As the credits complete the following words appear on the screen, “Most people don’t know the history of Lenin’s last night before burial.”
END TITLE SEQUENCE
INT. BOLSHAYA LUBYANKA 5, restaurant Glavpivtorg – NIGHT
The restaurant is designed to feel like a Soviet bureaucrat’s office from the late 1960s. Complete with Soviet times live music, you can nearly feel the secret service KGB watching over your shoulder. There are mysterious customers of the restaurant who work in the area and they happen to be people watching. They appear to be making mental notes as they wait for their food, but even also while eating.
Waitresses are dressed in old-fashioned clothes which gives us the impression that we are in the 1960’s. The band in the main room is playing nostalgic 1970 music.
The story begins with two well dressed but drunken men entering the bar in the restaurant Glavpivtorg at Luybyanka. We will soon come to know the men as ALEXEI and DMITRY. It appears they have been drinking before arriving.
DMITRY waves as he walks past tables on his path to the bar. He seems to know personally a good number of important people. DMITRY is an idealistic political (Don Quixote) being.
ALEXEI has two cases of vodka. The label is a dangerous looking North American Rattlesnake coiled up in front of the Kremlin’s Senatskaya Tower. The bar keeper takes one case and puts it behind the bar. The other case is put on an empty bar stool. ALEXEI is a common-sense business (Sancho Panza) being.
ALEXEI and DMITRY are quasi-successful small businessmen (the owners of a small Vodka distillery). Both are disgruntled Russian citizens. They are marketing Vodka laced with rattlesnake venom. It might be “just marketing” and it might be “for real.”
There are three strange older tycoons at a table near the bar. Our first impression of them is that they have so much money and are so bored they revert to high stakes gambling with each other for entertainment. Apparently they have gambled and are watching the end of a sporting event on TV.
Who will win the Mayor’s election next week?
How should I know?
Don’t you work for the Mayor?
The sporting event has ended and the television news has begun. The two men are delivering vodka to the bar and soon watching the news of LENIN’S BODY being removed from the tomb and relocated for burial.
The Kremlin is getting ready for a burial, the body of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin will now be leaving its Moscow mausoleum, early tomorrow morning. The body of the Communist icon is to be buried near Lenin’s mother in St Petersburg.
CUT TO shots of the St. Petersburg grave site.
CUT to the interview of a key government official.
I will not sugar-coat my language. Lenin and his ideology both are extremely controversial historic relics and I along with millions of others call his Red Square tomb an absurd, pagan-necrophilic cathedral. A monument to national stupidity. Russia is a great country but we had a bout with momentary insanity.
CUT TO shots of a waitress, sympathetic with communism, who seems agitated by the media name-calling. She has stopped working to listen.
CUT TO the television news is interviewing a lady on the on the street. She is between 50 and 60 years old.
MIDDLE AGED Lady
Well, if it were any sensible Russian’s grandfather, he would be in the ground within perhaps three days. It’s not natural above the ground. I viewed Lenin’s body as child in a school and haven’t been back.
CUT TO the television news interviewing a young Mother.
Communism is over. Get over it, people.
Anything else to add?
Yes, and it isn’t coming back.
CUT TO the television news interviewing a teenage boy on the on the street. He is between 18 and 20 years old. The Glavpivtorg waitress is on the verge of becoming emotional.
Who that dead guy they got down there? Sure let him stay; it is a tourist attraction and some people get their kicks from seeing dead people.
The Glavpivtorg waitress is in a fog about this. Young people are idiots. And they chose a horribly inept young man to explain a sensitive point of view. The waitress says nothing but she wishes the media had interviewed her; she feels that she would have been more articulate. Probably not but the waitress thinks she could, if asked, save LENIN.
CUT TO shots of the Red Square mausoleum.
TV NEWS (V.O.)
The body of Lenin will now be leaving its Moscow mausoleum, though many Russians have called for the leader of the Bolshevik Revolution to remain in Red Square.
CUT TO communist woman being interviewed on the street.
The President of Russia accepted the decision to take the body of V.I. Lenin from the Mausoleum and bury him in Leningrad. The initiator of this provocation is the hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church. Our Soviet comrades in Russia, plus other Communist parties of the world have opposed such measures and have moved to towards UNITY in defense of Lenin. But, it appears that the present Mafiosi regime that is running the Kremlin shall have their way. It is a sad day.
CUT TO shots of a waitress and communist WOMAN who nods in agreement. There is almost a tear and the funeral isn’t until tomorrow.
TV NEWS (V.O.)
During the funerals of past Soviet leaders there was a custom of displaying their decorations on velvet cushions, which were carried in the procession behind the coffin. This task was traditionally given to an escort of senior officers, each carrying a cushion with one decoration on it. The current members of the Central Committee have been invited to participate.
CUT TO footage from Brezhnev’s funeral.
TV NEWS (V.O.)
Tomorrow morning around 10 am, the Moscow militia will seal off parts of downtown Moscow during the funeral. Large avenues will be tightly guarded by the police and the Moscow military garrison. The coffin will be carried from the Mausoleum by Russian military officers to the railcar that will take the body to Saint Petersburg. In Saint Petersburg, as Lenin’s body is lowered into the grave a military squad will salute while an orchestra plays the Soviet national anthem.
CUT TO footage of Latin American leaders stepping off the plane after arriving.
TV NEWS (V.O.)
The funeral will be attended by the heads of state of Cuba, Equator, Venezuela and the United States. “Four” heads of state have agreed to attend.
CUT TO shots of the Russian Foreign Minister at a rostrum speaking to reporters.
You have to understand why there aren’t more dignitaries in attendance. This isn’t an insult to Russia. It is simply that when I was in school 1/3 of the nations were communist and now there are only a handful. It’s a thing from the past, totally unrelated to today’s foreign relations.
Who will meet the heads of state at the airport?
The Communist Party has insisted that they be allowed to greet the arrivals. And by the way they have insisted that no member of the current government be in the burial party. It is totally their sceptical.
CUT TO shots of the St. Petersburg Church and Cemetery.
TV NEWS (V.O.)
Ironically the body will be laid to rest in a cemetery owned by the Russian Orthodox Church. Lenin ordered the arrest of priests as the enemies of revolution and saboteurs, executed them without mercy. Lenin Ordered that churches should be shut down. The cathedrals have to be sealed and used as warehouses. Strangely, the man who unleashed a massacre of Orthodox priests was a baptized Orthodox Christian. Throughout 1922 alone at least eight thousand priests, monks and nuns were executed according to Lenin’s orders.
Criminal egotist, that will serve him right. Eternity in the shadow of a church.
ALEXEI and DMITRY are increasingly drunk and toast to LENIN being buried in a church yard. They chuckle a bit at that.
And NEXT to his mother!!!
ALEXEI and DMITRY laugh loudly and drunkenly. Now we know they are VERY VERY drunk.
You people are pigs. It was audacious to suggest that Vladimir Lenin’s body be moved from its mausoleum in Red Square.
ALEXEI and DMITRY have this unbelieving blank look on their face. One meets communists in the strangest places, but it is increasingly rare.
Lenin presided over one of the most ambitious socio-political transformations in history. To build a new society based on proletarian internationalism. He created a Bolshevik state, instituted the social justice, and evicted and punished Russian nobility, property owners, clerics and other “old world” classes.
ALEXEI and DMITRY are so drunk they simply stare at her. Perhaps they are too drunk to respond, but there is also the old adage, “If you are debating an idiot and want to win, simply let the other talk.”
The great Lenin left us a socialist country, and you have pissed it away. And YOU want to falsify history. You want to bury not just his body, but his ideas. I am a Soviet citizen! This isn’t my country.
The waitress wants to debate but she’s not aware of how drunk the men are. She waits for their response. And even if sober I’m not sure if they would argue with her. Neither men acknowledge the legally insane they encounter on the streets of Moscow. They simply observe. They are certain that Russia has tired of the debate, it is pointless. The men simply stare.
This is a decision for all Soviet nations to make together. No one asked the Belorussians or the Ukranians.
I called the Uzbeks and the Kazakhs.
I called the Tajiks.
ALEXEI and DMITRY
No one answered the phone. Perhaps they were out of the office, BURYING THEIR DEAD?
Tonight, ALEXEI and DMITRY are too drunk to debate a communist, but they will always lampoon her. The tycoons all chuckle. The waitress spins around and gives the wealthy men at the table a scornful look.
For the waitress this only confirms her ideas about the new Russia and she returns taking drinks to various tables. She is angry.
After a laugh, ALEXEI and DMITRY look at each other they go back to drinking. Today and tomorrow are just like any other day in the new Russia. One tycoon seems to be watching and are near enough to hear the conversation. Why is he so interested in the conversation?
Do you remember in school stealing Kirilenko’s 27 volume Complete Works of Lenin?
That old communist. The worst teachers were ideology teachers. How is that? Is he dead yet?
If he didn’t want them stolen and placed in the children’s library on the other side of town, then he shouldn’t have mentioned them to us EVERY SINGLE DAY.
“I own. I have in my possession. Someday you might have a complete set.”
We should steal Lenin’s body and leave it at his door.
The oldest tycoon has excellent hearing and motions for the others to listen. It appears that the tycoons have been contemplating something along these lines.
I was just thinking this. He would die! He would have a heart attack.
Or, hold the body for ransom.
Oh, I am a facebook friend of the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Russia. We will post him a photograph of Lenin in front of your vodka factory.
Why are you friends with him?
Occasions come up and I think he enjoys the ridicule. But lets do it. I need to poke him in the eye for this week.
I need the ransom.
It will be in the newspapers.
Will they become angry at Facebook?
Yes, the American’s will be more angry than the Communist Party of Russia. Obama worships Lenin.
Odd. We are free and the Americans are now slaves to the government.
Your account will be suspended.
A small price to pay.
How much do you think we can get?
About 20 years.
That isn’t very much money.
They are communists. You won’t get any money from them. They don’t have any.
But they have a building.
They won’t ever trade that.
Maybe we can get the government to pay.
The civil unrest angle is good. If the communists will pay for enough protesters, then we can argue, “we better give these crazy people their dead body back or there will be a riot.” True?
Riots can be expensive.
Elections are nearing.
You will be our spokesperson. You are good at that. You talk and I will ransom them Lenin’s body for something…
Don’t say “ransom”. In fact, it isn’t a good idea to ask for money.
You are probably right there. They are the criminals. We are only temporary law breakers.
The three tycoons have been very near the entire time, unnoticed by the men. But during the conversation they have discussed things and they have now stood up and approached ALEXEI and DMITRY.
Gentlemen, I have a proposition. We have a proposition.
CUT TO five minutes later…