Synopsis by Mark Deming
In this satiric comedy produced in the Soviet Union, a travelling puppeteer finds himself incurring the wrath of a cardinal of the Catholic Church in 16th century Europe. Desperate to avoid torture for his crimes, the puppet master comes up with a plan -- he'll pose as Jesus Christ and present himself to the less educated peasants of the region, urging them to turn away from their growing revolt against the Church and its authority. The cardinal likes the idea, but in practice the scheme takes a few unexpected turns; the puppeteer-turned-savior starts staging "miracles," and his new legion of followers begin wandering the countryside in an increasingly anarchic state, enjoying the fruit of the vine and introducing the concept of physical love to a convent of curious nuns. Director Vladimir Bychkov was forced to put Zhitiye I Vozneseniye Yurasya Bratchika through twelve rounds of editing before state censors would permit it to receive even a limited release in 1968; the film was later banned, though it received an enthusiastic revival at a retrospective of Soviet cinema presented at the 2000 Locarno Film Festival.
identity-switch, scheme, Christianity, savior, Cardinal, Soviet, puppet [doll]