So you think you know everything about Moscow, huh?!…
No? Oh, okay. Anything at all? Kremlin, vodka, and that weird guy with
the funny accent in that action flick? Well, I gotta tell you, that
isn’t much. Never mind though. You will be all the more flabbergasted
by the kind of Moscow, the real one, that my new film Night Watch
(Nochnoi Dozor) is about. Because you’ll never discover this
Moscow on a one-week organized tour with a bubbly guide, museums, and
matreshkas for souvenirs. No sir. You have to go into the dark alleys
for that one. You have to turn over sewer hatches, and get on the night
bus—without a ticket, mind you! Intrigued yet? Well, here’s
a little taste of Moscow for you.
(Click on the thumbnail to see bigger picture)
A member of the trendy Russian pop girl-band “The Shiny Ones.”
Drives a red Mazda and is prone to speeding. Right-hand woman to Zavulon,
the leader of Moscow’s Dark Others.
Gorodetskiy. Computer programmer, proficient in Fortran, Pascal,
Java, Delphi and Python. Has a history of alcohol abuse. Lives alone.
Habitually falls asleep to Animal Planet programs. Lately received
his first field assignment: to track a stray vampire.
Butcher’s son. Student in biology. While applying to college,
fell short in GPA points, but got in thanks to his father’s connections
(father regularly supplies the dean with fresh pork chops). Hobbies:
soccer, hip hop music. Half-breed: his mother was human.
General Doctor at Clinic no.17. Salary: $200. Lives in a one-bedroom
with her mother, and spends most of her free time taking care of her.
Personal life all but non-existent. Lonely. Unaware of her great magical
Retired. Has trouble sleeping at night and suffers from a weak bladder.
Excellent cook, but this is not how she makes a living. In the turbulent
‘90s, when people had tired of the grim reality and turned to
the occult for answers, 15,000 licenses were issued in Moscow alone
to fortune-tellers, charmers and healers. More often than not, the real
witches failed to obtain a license.
Has hearing damage from a war injury. Prefers to roll his own cigarettes.
Has never been reported to lose his temper. The best driver west of
the Ural mountain ridge. One of the few remaining Light Others to have
been present at the Forging of the Truce.
Brought up by his mother, a busy TV announcer, who often works late.
Has few friends at school, enjoys arcanoid video games, and frequently
stays home alone. Takes swimming classes on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and
Fridays. May play a crucial part in the ongoing war between Light and
Neighborhood far removed from the center of Moscow. Located on the border
of two districts. Street lighting insufficient. If you live in Vatutinki,
you may have to walk across a cemetery to get home from the bus stop.
market. Plans to demolish this old market have been in the
air for the last ten years. It’s finally been sentenced, and now
is but a “dead man walking.” In the late ‘80s it was
the first outlet to the hip and colorful things that embodied the West
for the Muscovites: jeans, bubble-gum, music audio tapes and make-up
kits. It is rumored that many of these products seemed to have appeared
out of thin air: you couldn’t track them back to any factory or
customs in the world. Light Others try to avoid the market when they
Third Circle Road. Moscow’s main roads are concentric
rings. There is the relatively-quiet Boulevard Ring, the usually-congested
Garden Ring, the underground Circle Line, and the Moscow Circle Highway,
separating the city from its outer regions. The Third Circle Road, 23
miles long, now nears its completion after having been conceived in
1935. A two-mile section of the road runs 135 feet deep underground.
Drivers report seeing, on more than one occasion, a young woman with
disheveled hair, aimlessly wandering in the tunnels, the cause of many
accidents. They believe this has something to do with the tragic death
of a female road-construction worker 12 years ago.
Moscow metro: a complex underground
system with 12 lines and over 160 platforms. While most subways in the
world are designed to be simple and efficient, Moscow metro stations
resemble ostentatious gothic- or baroque-looking marble palaces with
columns and adornments. One of the secret tunnels, many of which were
built by convicts and war prisoners, allegedly led directly to Stalin’s
bunker in the Kremlin. In fact, by now few people know for sure where
every single tunnel goes, and whether it goes anywhere. 12% of people’s
nightmares have to do with the metro.
The Barbie doll of the Soviet ‘70s. Made of rubber, and makes
a whistling sound through the hole at the bottom, if squeezed. 30 years
ago every little girl had one. But few ever wondered whether someone
or some thing may dwell inside of these hollow toys.
“ZIL” truck. You can often see these yellow trucks
with a red stripe in the streets of Moscow. Everyone knows they are
an emergency service of one type or another. But rarely do you see one
actually perform such service. Another mystery: while these old trucks
break frequently, and generally only go about 20 mph tops, with proper
maintenance and an experienced driver they can accelerate to 90 mph
in 11 seconds.
Elevators in many old apartment buildings in Moscow
have a mind of their own. They don’t close or open automatically.
You have to pull a heavy iron door shut, and then push the inner wooden
folding door to a close. The shaft is usually exposed, with the staircase
going up and around it, separated from it only by the steel net. The
elevator in motion screeches and groans terribly. Sometimes it elects
to stop a foot or two below the level of your floor, making the step
out a daunting experience. Maniac killers often choose elevators to
wait for victims in, and hitmen sometimes attack from behind the shaft.
Now that you’ve browsed the travel booklet, it’s time to
get a ticket and go on a wild ride. By the way, the weird guy with the
funny accent in that action flick was probably American. Canadian, at