Published On: Wed, Aug 30th, 2017

First Scandi noir, now Slavic noir: Russia premiers its take on the cultural phenomenon


It is not just homegrown or even American shows which have built-up a cult following, with the rise of ‘Scandi Noir’ becoming a staple of TV screens. 

And while Scandinavia enjoys their fair share of the box-set pie, what about Slavic noir? 

Hans Christian Anderson, the Grimm Fairytales and even Hansel and Gretel are all folklore which have found their way to screens. 

It seems Eastern Europe is looking to get in on the action, with Russian TV Channel TV-3 premiering its own take on the fantasy-cum-mystery hysteria. 

With a wealth of ready-made tales, characters and storylines, TV-3 are attempting to harness the relatively unknown treasure trove of Russian literature to provide a fresh take on the noir format.

“And why not?” says Valeriy Fedorovich, president of TV-3.

Gogol Slavic Noir Russian TV-3

Russian TV Channel TV-3 are premiering its own take on the fantasy-cum-mystery hysteria

On the back of the popularity of the epics such as Game of Thrones, TV-3 is presenting their piece-de-resistance, Gogol, airing in screens across Russia on August 30. 

While the name not resonate with western viewers, and not to be confused with Google, their masterpiece is attempting to shake up the future of films and box-sets alike.

Created by company Sreda, and produced by award-winning owner Alexander Tsekalo, it is the only Russian TV company to have a deal with Netflix.

To date Sreda has sold six series to the viewing giant, with hopes Gogol could follow suit. 

The eight hour-long episodes – with a budget roughly double that of other Russian shows I am assured – have taken three years to come to fruition. 

Taking a leaf out of Sherlock’s book, the team are planning on turning their box-set into a cinema experience. 

The eight episodes are being condensed into four films, two episodes a-piece, to air week after week on the big screen.

Gogol-russia-netflix-filmTV-3

Gogol is set to be an 18 release, although a 16 version is also planned


We want a Slavic noir, a Slavic fantasy

Valeriy Fedorovich


Imagine the hype of each new episode of Game Of Thrones combined with the queues for the Star Wars film in the 1970s. 

And the Russians do not mess around, Gogol is set to be an 18+ release, although a 16+ version is also planned. 

The inspiration behind the series comes from the man himself, Nikolay Gogol (1809-1852), the Russian equivalent to Shakespeare. 

“We feel like every culture has a character like this,” Mr Fedorovich explained. 

“They’re characters we know and we’re absolutely sure that it is going to be interesting for the international crowd.

“We feel like the story actually has the potential everywhere, because it’s universal.” 

A writer of novels, poems and plays, Gogol’s works have been the inspiration behind countless mainstream media and other popular culture creations, the most recent being a film released in 2011.

Gogol Slavic Noir Russian TV-3

The latest adaption of his works by TV -3 places the author in his own stories

TV-3 believes the time is right for Slavic Noir to come into the fore, it being a relatively untapped market. 

Mr Fedorovich said: “We know there is a hype for fantasy, look at Game of Thrones.

“We just think we could add something. The western Gothic trend is quite well spread, but there something else that you haven’t yet seen that we could bring. 

“When Scandinavian noir appeared, it was so new. We want a Slavic noir, a Slavic fantasy.”

Gogol Slavic Noir Russian TV-3

TV-3 are attempting to harness the relatively unknown treasure trove of Russian literature

The latest adaption of his works by TV-3 places the author in his own stories, re-imagining the tales as if Gogol wrote them from his own memories and experiences. 

Not an unknown concept, Mr Fedorovich said: “This is something that English culture has a lot. 

“So we’re just doing it with a Slavic twist.”

Set in 1829, the first film draws on the cinematics of Sleepy Hollow, the detective-mystery of Sherlock Holmes, and the fantasy and nudity of Game of Thrones. 

A peppering of dry wit throughout from investigator Yakov Petrovich Guro, played by Laurence Olivier award recipient Oleg Menshivok, balances out the neurotic and haunted Nikolay Gogol, played by Alexander Petrov. 

While in Russian, producers have not written off dubbing the series to make it more accessible to an international audience, or even changing the name. 

And the four films are not confined to a historical backdrop, they also dip into the 21st century merging the modern day with the traditional characters. 

With the widely anticipated cinema release set to introduce Gogol with a bang, it could be Slavic noir’s time to shine on the global stage.


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