Bolshoi Babylon review – offstage war zone of Russia’s ‘secret weapon’

The Bolshoi may look beautiful from the stalls, but this documentary reveals it as a tinderbox of broiling personal and political rivalries

The opening voice tells us that Bolshoi is one of two brand names that represent Russia, the other being Kalashnikov. There’s certainly something of the war zone about this portrayal of the behind-the-scenes battles that climaxed in a shocking acid attack on the Bolshoi’s ballet director, Sergei Filin, in January 2013. As the film unpicks broiling internecine struggles among performers and management, we learn of the uncomfortably close relationship (physical and political) between the theatre and the Kremlin. Prime minister Dmitry Medvedev calls the Bolshoi Russia’s “secret weapon”, dispatched to foreign countries to “achieve our goals” like some quasi-military intervention. When new general director Vladimir Urin is installed to restore order to the theatre, it’s clear that his appointment comes from the highest office. Despite demands of independence, he must attend meetings with Putin, who clearly takes a very personal interest in this national treasure.

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Source: Guardian Dance News

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