Communal Living in Russia: From Films
Scenes from Feature Films: Scenes from Strange Grownups
  Comic scenes of communal apartment life in the 1970s from the feature film "Strange Grownups," reproduced here by permission of the Lenfilm movie studio. Director Ayan Shakhmalieva, screenplay by Maria Evereva and Arkady Minchkovsky. 1974.
  Translation of the Russian Transcript
  Adoptive mother: We're here, Tonya. And this is our door.

Tonya: Why do you have so many doorbells?

Mother: They're not all ours. They belong to the neighbors.

Adoptive father: And this one's ours! Go on in.

Mother: Tonechka, this is where we live.

Father: Go on.

Mother: The second door on the right in the hallway is ours.

Father: This one.

Tonya: Why do you have so many doors?

Mother: Tonechka, I already told you: we are not the only ones who live here. Our neighbors live here too. But they're not home right now.

Father: But soon we'll be getting a new, separate apartment.

Tonya: What kind is this one?

Father: It's a communal apartment.

Mother: That means it's shared.

Father: Yes, that's right.

Tonya: Are they all like my relatives now?

Father: No, it's just that we all live together.

Tonya: Hmmm... like in our orphanage, to make things more fun.


Oleg Oskarovich: Young lady, what are you doing with the teapot?

Tonya: I'm using it to wash the dishes.

Oleg Oskarovich: But that's my teapot. Yours is this one over here.

Tonya: But I'm not taking it for keeps.

Oleg Oskarovich: I understand that you're not taking it for keeps. But there are rules. The table that belongs to you, the Ryabikovs, is that one. And that burner belongs to someone else. This is your burner, over here.

Tonya: But the other ones aren't being used.

Oleg Oskarovich: They're not being used, but that doesn't matter. There are rules. And you put on someone else's apron. It belongs to Olga Nikolaevna. And the gloves belong to Augusta Yakovlevna. Don't forget to put everything back.

Tonya: I just wanted to wash the dishes for everyone. Like I'm on duty.

Oleg Oskarovich: I understand. But you must never touch other people's dishes, either. Those are the rules here, see—the rules! Nothing is allowed!


Evgeniy: Olyushka, just make sure that she doesn't hear you. It wouldn't be right from a childrearing standpoint.

Olga: But the brush is ruined.

August Yakovlevna (off-screen): It can be cleaned.

Oleg Oskarovich: Well, I really didn't want to say anything, but I think that we have to take Olga Nikolaevna's views into account as well. Maybe, precisely from the standpoint of proper childrearing, Evgeniy Pavlovich, it would make sense to talk it over with the girl's parents. Tactfully, of course. But, then, talk to them about what? The girl rang the wrong doorbell. She turned on the wrong light. She mixed up the burners. All of it is really so trivial, when you get down to it... at first glance.

Rita: And at second glance too.

Oleg Oskarovich: Yes, but Olga Nikolaevna feels it is becoming a regular thing.

Augusta Yakovlevna: But Oleg Oskarovich, don't you agree, that she is, after all, a child?

Oleg Oskarovich: She's a child—of course.

August Yakovlevna: And we'll get used to it.

Oleg Oskarovich: And we'll get used to it. But she has to get used to it too, doesn't she?

Olga: Yes, that's right, we always lived together in our apartment just fine. And no one got into other's peoples affairs or their things.

Evgeniy: Olya!

Rita: I'm revolted just listening to you! Everyone in their own burrow, just as pleased as can be. "My burner, my light switch..." How awful!

Oleg Oskarovich: So what do you suggest? Should we make everything into common property?

Augusta Yakovlevna: Oh, come on now!

Rita: I suggest we should be more humane.

Olga: Yes, my dear, it's convenient for you that way. Your young man comes here to see you and we don't say a word!

Rita: Don't you dare!

August Yakovlevna: Oh, Olga Nikolaevna, I implore you, let's not have an argument. Ritochka, my darling child, it makes no difference to you. You don't have to live here. You're leaving to be with your fiance.

Rita: Thank God for that! Let me out of here!

Olga: Let her out.

Oleg Oskarovich: Lovely. Delightful. She always goes off the deep end.

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