“In Soviet Russia, party finds you.”
Shest’ pisem o bite or Six Letters About Beat is a Soviet student film from 1977 examining the cultural impact of rock music, which was very underground at the time, through a series of “letters to the editor” from people of different ages and backgrounds. The attacks, defenses, and explanations of rock music come from a conservative couple, some young fans, members of a band, and a sociology professor.
According to Russian film website Obskura:
This film is an amazing historical document and a living proof that Soviet rock music didn’t start in the 1980s with Viktor Tsoi and “Kino”, as it is believed by many. The film contains recordings of the 1970s underground concerts with bands like “Rubinovaya ataka” (Ruby Attack), “Visokosnoe leto” (Leap Summer) and “Mashina Vremeni” (Time Machine). Rock music sessions were not completely legal at that time, which makes the footage even more exclusive.
Six Letters About Beat was directed by a documentary film-maker Aleksei Khanyutin, back then a student of VGIK (All Union State University of Cinematography), as part of his university course. This coursework was gathering dust on a shelf of some archive until the collapse of the USSR, mainly because the film doesn’t exhibit any negative attitudes towards rock music scene and even poses a question whether this music can be considered a form of art.
The music in Six Letters About Beat is not necessarily mind-blowing, but it is pretty interesting in that it sounds like a slightly “off” version of Western music. There are even a few moments of killer fuzz. It’s interesting to note how ‘60s-dated the music sounds for 1977, when the rest of the world was undergoing a musical revolution with punk, dance, and hiphop—but anything youth-counter-culture-related, especially in such an under-reported scene, is worthy of attention. This short doc is totally worth a gander, not only for the interesting Soviet take on rock music, but for the attractive Russian teens dancing to the beat.
After the jump, watch ‘Six Letters About Beat’...