Communal Living in Russia: From Films
Scenes from Feature Films: A scene from A Dog's Heart
  Summary
  A scene related to uplotnenie (space allocation) from the film "A Dog's Heart," reproduced here by permission of the Lenfilm movie studio. Director Vladimir Bortko, screenplay by Natalia Bortko, based on the 1925 novel by Mikhail Bulgakov. 1988.
  Translation of the Russian Transcript
  Professor Preobrazhensky: Are you here to see me?

Vyazemskaya: Easy does it, comrade!

Shvonder: Professor, we are here to see you about the matter of...

Professor: Gentlemen, you should not be out in such weather without galoshes. First of all, you will catch cold, and second, you will track up my carpets, all of which are Persian.

Vyazemskaya: First of all, we are not gentlemen.

Professor: First of all, are you a man or a woman?

Shvonder: What difference does that make?

Vyazemskaya: I am a woman.

Professor: In that case, you may keep your cap on, but I shall have to ask you, my good sir, to remove your headgear.

Pestrukhin: I'm not your good sir.

Shvonder: Professor, we are here to see you about the matter of...

Professor: Who is this "we"?

Shvonder: We are the new housing management board of our building. My name is Shvonder, she is Vyazemskaya, and these are Comrade Pestrukhin and Comrade Sharovkin.

Professor: Tell me, are you the ones ones who were moved into the apartment of Fedor Pavlovich Sablin?

Shvonder: That's us.

Professor: My God, the building is ruined! What will happen to the central heating?

Shvonder: Are you being unserious, Professor?

Professor: Ah, if only this were an unserious mat... Okay. Well, and what matter are you here about? Get on with it, it's time for my dinner.

Shvonder: We are here to see you, professor, about the following matter. We, the management board of our building, have come to see you following a general meeting of the tenants of our building, at which the question of space allocation was raised...

Professor: Who raised whom? Do try to express your thoughts more clearly.

Shvonder: The question of space allocation was raised.

Professor: And are you aware that a decree dated 12 April 1924 exempts me from any and all issues of space allocation?

Shvonder: Yes, we are aware of that, but a general meeting of the tenants of our building has come to the conclusion, upon examination of your case, that, all things considered, you are occupying an area which is excessively large.

Vyazemskaya: Excessively large.

Shvonder: You live alone in seven rooms.

Professor: I live and work in seven rooms. And I would like to have eight. I need another room for the library.

Petrukhin: Eight! Well, how do you like that!

Vyazemskaya: This is unbelievable!

Shvonder: Excuse me, professor, but the general meeting of tenants of our building has requested that you voluntarily, as a matter of labor discipline, vacate the dining room. No one in Moscow has a dining room.

Vyazemskaya: Not even Isadora Duncan!

Shvonder: The same goes for the examining room. By the way, you could use the office as an examining room.

Petrukhin: Most certainly.

Shvonder: Isn't that so, comrades?

Professor: Then where should I take my meals?

All: In the bedroom.

Professor: Hm. It is quite possible that that is what Isadora Duncan does. Perhaps she has her dinner in the office and dissects guinea pigs in the bathroom. Maybe so. But I am not Isadora Duncan. I will eat my dinner in the dining room and operate in the operating theater. Convey that to the general meeting. And allow me to take my meals in the room where all normal people do, not in the entryway or the nursery.

Shvonder: Then, professor, in view of your stubborn opposition, we are going to lodge a complaint with the higher-ups.


Editor's note: Obviously, Professor Preobrazhensky's situation is not typical for Moscow in 1924. Preobrazhensky treats high-ranking Soviet functionaries and is under their protection. The novella "A Dog's Heart," written in 1925, was first published in 1968 outside the USSR and was not released in the USSR until 1987.

For credits, copyright, and contact information please see the "About" page at Communal Living in Russia: A Virtual Museum of Soviet Everyday Life, http://kommunalka.colgate.edu/.