Sunday, February 19, 2006

Night Watch (Nochnoi Dozor)

I was drooling to take a bite out of the first installment of Russian director Timur Bekmambetov's Night Watch (Nochnoi Dozor) Trilogy when it premiered in Paris this last September; but, I didn't think it would be respectful to Sergei Lukyanenko's writing to collapse Russian into French into English. Leave Babel alone, I told myself, and be patient, wait, wait, all good things come to those who wait. Though in the case of Night Watch, all good things come as well as the bad.

Here is the official website with synopsis, trailer and—for those of you who just don't have the time—the entire movie in two and a half minutes, which (I might add) is unusually enjoyable after you've seen the film:

Subtitles—once tethered to translation—have been emancipated!!! Timur Bekmambetov has raised the bar and now asks subtitles to evoke as much as they translate. In Night Watch, subtitles vanish into blood-red smoke, duck in and out from behind walls, and even grow visibly larger when someone shouts. As fresh as all this is in Night Watch, it seductively invites imitation and Bekmambetov will be fortunate, indeed, to be as innovative by the final installment of this trilogy as he has been with its first. I anticipate a rash of rip-offs that will drain all life out of the original veins.

Thoroughly entertaining with a minimum of gore, the concepts in Night Watch provoke fear. Creepy concepts about gloom and doom. And, sure, there are some inexcusable gaps in script continuity (how can the lights come back on when the light company has been blown up?), but all in all, Night Watch is a fascinating take on vampiric lore with subtle, political commentary on the right of good to license evil. Most folks have already marked their calendars and will be lining up to catch the 06/06/06 remake of The Omen; but, Night Watch is the tale with a fresher twist.