In Russia, during the early 20th Century, a group of pornographers who take and distribute photographs of young women being spanked decide to branch out into film.
You know that old myth about members of primitive cultures not wanting their photographs taken because they believe it will steal their soul? Well in this film it appears the photographs have stolen the souls of those behind the camera as well.
Alexei Balabanov's film is an inscrutable, unsettling depiction of the effects of pornography on a variety of people. It features such uncomfortable images as the maid offering her breast to a pair of Siamese twins, their blind mother lifting her skirts for an intruder in her home, and the casual shootings of various characters. Its sepia photography and stilted style makes it look like a relic of a bygone age.
The meaning of all this remains unclear. Is Balabanov saying that all technology ends up being corrupted? Or that pornography degrades everyone who comes into contact with it? Or is it a film about the class struggle? I get the impression that you can read as much into all this as you wish. It certainly stays in the mind, though. Music by Eric Neveux.