Friday, 27 June 2014

Branded (3 Stars)

"Marketing was invented by Lenin, and now it's the foundation of the world economy, the great global brand revolution has won. We are still living in the world Lenin created. It used to be the brands were formed from people's desires. Now it's the people that are being formed according to the desires of the brands".

Misha Galkin is a marketing genius who was swept to success when Communism collapsed in Russia. He's hired to promote cosmetic surgery, so he makes a reality show about a fat woman. For 11 days she's shown on television 24 hours a day, and on the 12th day she undergoes an operation to remove half of her body weight. Unfortunately, the operation fails and the woman never wakes up from a deep coma. Misha becomes the most hated person in Russia and is frequently attacked by protesters who insist that fat is beautiful. Only then does he find out that he was set up by a competitor. The operation was intended to fail to promote a "fat is beautiful" campaign by a coalition of fast food companies.

Misha withdraws from society for six years. In a dream he's told to sacrifice a red cow to receive enlightenment. He returns to Moscow and finds that everyone is fat except for him. He is also able to see grotesque creatures feeding from everyone around him, creatures that are invisible to everyone else. A strange epidemic breaks out in Russia that no doctors can explain. Only Mikhail is aware that it is being caused by the invisible creatures. He recognises them to be a product of advertising, so he decides to fight them by mounting conflicting advertising campaigns.

The film isn't a comedy. It's not really science-fiction either, even though some critics claim it is. It's a satire about the leading companies in the modern world. It's not just about the fast food companies. We see thinly veiled references to many large companies, such as GiantSoft, Obbidas and Soda-Soda. Brands, or more particularly the advertising of brands, is presented as the great evil.

"Branded", also known as "Moscow 2017", is a difficult film to watch. The plot is very weird, and it's little more than an excuse to support the heavy propaganda. For most of the film the message seems to be anti-Capitalism, but then it's emphasised that advertising is a product of Communism. I can't really relate to it.

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