Russian Idioms: Hard nut to crack
The Imperial Faberge Easter Eggs

“The Heart of a Dog” – Mikhail Bulgakov

M. Bulgakov's novel “Собачье сердце” (Heart of a dog) was only available in самиздат (self published book). It was officially published only in 1987 (during the perestroika). The first film show took place on November 19, 1988.

In the 1920s, professor Philip Philipovich Preobrazhensky, an eminent surgeon, had achieved excellent results in the field of rejuvenation. He conceived an unprecedent experiment: to transplant a human pituitary gland and testicles to a dog.

The plot

A stray dog, named Sharik, is found by the professor, brought to his luxurious appartment and fed with excellent food. When Chungunkin Klim, a alcoholic, rowdy hooligan, is killed in a brawl, the professor is ready for his experiment. The results exceede all his expectations: Sharik fur and tail fell off, his limbs stretched, he began to speak... In Moscow, rumors spray about the wonders in the house of the professor. But it doesn't take long to the professor to regret what he did. Sharik who was humanised with Klim's organs, receiving then his character and bad habits, also kept some own habits like chasing cats.

All this did not prevent him to perfectly adapt to the post-revolutionary socialist reality and he even managed to become Moscow's chief of section for strangling vagrant cats. Sharikov, as he is now named, transforms the life of professor Preobrazhensky and his householf into a real hell by writting a letter of denunciation to Shvonder (Chairman of the House Committee) leading to a perquisition of his appartment, by demanding his share of the flat, by threatening the professor and his assistant Dr. Bormental with a gun, etc. The only way left to the professor is to return Sharik to its original state.

“Heart of a dog” was filmed in black and white offering the viewer a feeling of cold, hunger, madness of that time. Great actor Evgeni Evstigneev is playing the role of professor Preobrazhensky. The character of Sharikov, played by Vladimir Tolokonnikov was revealed in this film by film director Vladimir Bortko.

Many famous quotes from the film have become catchphrases in Russia. For example:

  • Разруха начинается в головах ()
  • Бить будете, папаша? (You gone beat me, daddy?)
  • В очередь, сукины дети, в очередь! ()
  • Господа все в Париже ()
  • - Доет: не читайте перед обедом советских газет. (I give you a advice: never read Soviet newspapers before dinner.)

- Так ведь других нет. (But there are no others.) - А вы никаких не читайте. ()

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Read Mikhail Bulgakov's novel «Heart of a dog», and don't miss the film as it is one of the best Russian films.

Елена Коновалова

M. Bulgakov is novel Heart of a dog was only available in self published book. It was officially published only in 1987 (during the perestroika).