Assa (film)

Assa (Асса) is a 1987 Soviet crime film directed by Sergei Solovyov. It became a cult film,[1][2] mostly thanks to the fact that it was one of the films that brought Russian rock music from the underground into the mainstream. Solovyov made a sequel to the film twenty years later, 2-ASSA-2.

Assa (film).jpg
Directed bySergei Solovyov
Written bySergei Solovyov
Sergei Livnev
StarringTatyana Drubich
Stanislav Govorukhin
Viktor Tsoi
Sergei "Afrika" Bugaev
Narrated byNatan Eidelman
Music byBoris Grebenshchikov
CinematographyPavel Lebeshev
Release date
  • 1987 (1987)
Running time
145 min.
CountrySoviet Union

While there are no causal links to this distinction, Sovietology uses the release of Assa as a benchmark for when Perestroika reached the mass culture, and accordingly, entered its prime phase. This could be explained by the fact that the film was the first sanctioned production to feature previously-banned musicians.[3]


The film has several plot lines. The main plot takes place in the winter of 1980 and tells the story of Alika (Tatyana Drubich), a young nurse who stays in Yalta with her patient and lover Krymov (Stanislav Govorukhin), who is considerably older than she is. Krymov is the head of a criminal group and is being watched by inept KGB agents, but Alika is not completely aware of it. In Yalta Alika meets Bananan (Sergei "Afrika" Bugaev), a young and eccentric underground rock musician, who introduces her to the Soviet counterculture. When Krymov discovers that Alika is developing a relationship with Bananan, he becomes jealous and tries to convince Bananan to leave Alika and Yalta altogether; after Bananan refuses, Krymov's minions murder him. When he tells Alika about this, she murders him and is arrested by the Militsiya, although they treat her gently.

Another minor plot line shows the history of the murder of tsar Paul I of Russia. It is based on a book by Natan Eidelman, which Krymov is shown reading throughout the movie.

Experimental scenes and Russian rock relationEdit

Besides the two conventional plot lines, the film is notable for having many experimental scenes which are only loosely related to the plot: Bananan's surreal dreams, "footnotes" with explanation of Russian rock slang and performances of complete Russian rock songs by Aquarium, Bravo, Soyuz kompozitorov, Yury Chernavsky with Vesyolye Rebyata and Kino. Boris Grebenshchikov of Aquarium wrote the film's instrumental soundtrack and he is also referenced in the film's dialog: Bananan tells Krymov that Grebenshchikov "is a God who radiates light".

The film's memorable final scene symbolizes the liberation of Russian music from the state-imposed restrictions. In the scene, which is barely related to the plot, Bananan's bandmate brings Viktor Tsoi, the singer of Kino, portrayed by himself, to work in a restaurant as a singer; the restaurant manager starts reading to him the strict rules that all restaurant performers must follow, but instead of listening to her, Tsoi goes straight to the stage and starts singing I Want Changes! (Хочу перемен!); after some time the camera turns around and shows that he's not in a restaurant, but in front of a huge admiring crowd of young people in a theatre. This song became strongly associated with the social changes in the Soviet Union in the times of Perestroika and Glasnost in late 1980s, and the Russian opposition movement Solidarnost chose it as its anthem.

Another experimental scene shows one of Krymov's minions (Alexander Bashirov) being interrogated about Krymov's criminal activities. In an attempt to avoid squealing he pretends to be insane and reads a monologue about being traumatized by the death of Yuri Gagarin. The monologue was improvised by Bashirov.[4]



  1. Hello, Bananan Boy (Здравствуй, мальчик Бананан) — Yury Chernavsky and Vesiolie Rebiata
  2. I Go To You (Иду на ты) — Boris Grebenshchikov and Aquarium
  3. Air Force (ВВС) — Aleksandr Sinitsin and Soyuz Kompozitorov band
  4. Chick Blues (Мочалкин блюз) — Boris Grebenshchikov and Aquarium
  5. The Plane (Плоскость) — Boris Grebenshchikov and Aquarium
  6. Old Kozlodoyev (Старик Козлодоев) — Boris Grebenshchikov and Aquarium
  7. City Of Gold (Город золотой) — Boris Grebenshchikov and Aquarium
  8. Wonderful Land (Чудесная страна) — Jeanne Aguzarova and Bravo
  9. I Want Change (Хочу перемен) — Viktor Tsoi and Kino


  1. ^ Assa Archived 2013-12-19 at the Wayback Machine at the Mosfilm official website
  2. ^ Nikonova, Valeria. "Russia on Screen: The 10 Best Russian Films".
  3. ^
  4. ^ КИНО в КИНО Archived May 20, 2015, at the Wayback Machine at the website

External linksEdit

  • "Assa" at the Internet Movie Database
  • Долин, Антон (2018-04-01). "Тридцать лет фильму "Асса" Почему он вошел в историю?". Retrieved 2019-03-30.
  • Alika is arrested. Wonderful Land performed by J. Aguzarova and Bravo band on YouTube