Cinema has always been loved in Baku. And not only to watch. Most natives of the USSR are familiar with many films shot in Baku and Azerbaijan. And this movie is not just popular, but sometimes, as they say, cult.
Due to its colorfulness, the streets of Baku in particular and the Azerbaijani landscapes in general have always been a wonderful nature for the filming of feature films. The preservation of historical Baku houses of the XIX century and mosques, caravanserais, baths of the Middle Ages gave cinematographers the opportunity to reproduce not only the situation of Baku of the past centuries with minimal decorations, but also to depict foreign cities. The quarters of the Old City “played the role” of Istanbul, Tehran, and even Santiago, the capital of Chile.
The films shot in Baku are very numerous, but below we will not mention the little-known ones or those shot at the “Azerbaijanfilm” film studio, but we will tell about the most iconic and particularly noteworthy ones.
Icheri-Sheher became the model for the urban episodes of this Soviet-French political detective in 1981. This year, Old Baku turned into the capital of Iran, where, according to the plot of the picture, an attempt was to take place on the heads of the USSR, the USA and Great Britain during the Second World War.
The narrow streets with blank walls of medieval houses with no windows to the outside turned out to be ideal for displaying the stingy architecture of a Muslim city. It only remained to add inscriptions above the shops and graffiti in Arabic script so that the heroes of Igor Kostolevsky and Natalia Belokhvostikova looked as if they were on the streets of Tehran, and not Soviet Baku at all.
Chilean film director Sebastian Alarcon occupies an interesting niche in the cinema of the USSR. Having learned his craft at the Moscow VGIK, he lived and worked in the Soviet Union until the early 90s of the twentieth century. His main theme was the military coup of Augusto Pinochet in Re’s homeland, Chile, and Baku was depicted in two of his films as the city of Santiago. It was an arthouse pseudo-documentary feature film “Night over Chile” and “Jaguar”
“Dulcinea del Toboso”
In the 80s, a symbolic continuation of the legendary “Don Quixote” was filmed on the streets of Baku. The author of the source was no longer Miguel Cervantes, but the Soviet playwright Alexander Volodin. Based on his play, a musical was filmed in Baku, the author of which was the composer Gennady Gladkov. So Baku turned into a Spanish town for a few weeks.
The post-Soviet period also did not ignore the romantic appeal of Baku city blocks. A large number of episodes of the TV series “Drongo” based on the novel by Chingiz Abdullayev, telling about the struggle of Interpol with international criminal groups, director Yevgeny Roizman staged in Baku in 2002. The role of the protagonist, an Azerbaijani by origin, was performed by the famous Latvian actor Ivar Kalnins.
“The whole world is not enough”
One of the most famous film characters in the world, a British intelligence officer codenamed James Bond, is known to almost everyone who has heard of such a concept as cinema. In 1998, an episode was filmed at the Bibi Heybet oil field, which is located within the city of Baku, where the main actor, English actor Pierce Brosnan, rides a sports car among oil rockers. Therefore, if you find yourself in Baku for the first time and next to this oil field it seems to you that you have seen it before, do not be afraid – you do not have deja vu, but you have actually seen it in the movies.
In addition to the capital, cinematographers have chosen the Gobustan desert , located in relative proximity to it. Among its hills, the aforementioned “Dulcinea Tobosskaya”, the film “Kilimanjara” of Russian production in 2018 and many others were filmed. But a special place is occupied, of course, by the legend of the Soviet cinema “The Horseman without a Head”, a 1973 film adaptation of the novel by Mayne Reed. Then the rocky wastelands near Baku turned into the prairies of Texas.
The film signature is chosen according to the same principle as the actor, which means it is safe to say that the characteristic features of Azerbaijan and the city of Baku are charisma and cinematic view.