Thursday, September 09, 2004

zbigvision (late-night channel surfing)

You see some strange stuff when you're up all night channel surfing whilst jet-lagged. WLIW-21 was playing an excerpt from Zbig Vision's The Orchestra, specifically the segment called "Stairway to Lenin", which is set to Ravel's Bolero. Truly a trip. Recommended, though I doubt there's any way you will ever have a chance to see it.

UPDATE: Holy shit, it appears that Greencine has all three Zbig Vision DVDs: Media, Steps, and The Orchestra. Kudos to them.


  1. Last night I was up rather late, and was doing the usual : channel surfing. As I was flipping thru "Stairway To Lenin" was playing. It was quite possibly the most mesmerizing thing I have ever witnessed. I couldn't take my eyes off it. Unfortunately though, I have no earthly idea what it was about, I wish I had someone to explain the symbolism to me. It makes no matter to me, it was still amazing! (Applause)
    Thank you for making such a mind grasping proformance.
    Aaron Rogers

  2. Stairway to Lenin is an AWESOME program. They show it in the Classical Arts Showcase. I am so glad that other people appreciate things like this (and I thought I was going crazy or at least, way too abstract.) I always think of Stairway to Lenin whenever I hear Ravel's Bolero, they are inexplicably linked in my mind... especially because the music really works with the theme. Really very cool. I was wondering if there was a place I could see this program again?

    Email me at

  3. I just fell into this program, being stuck in a hotel in St. Jo, MO, and found it wonderful. There is a website ( where it can be purchased.

  4. I've totally seen "Stairway to Lenin" in the same jet-lagged state! Having been to Moscow, it was extremely compelling...

  5. I saw this the other night on tv and OMG i couldnt believe it. I was mesmerized like never b4 in my life. My question is, how the heck did they have so many stairs on the freakin stage? or was it some form of escalator?

    haha, anyways, if anybody has this PLEASE post it on youtube or something, as i had searched exhaustively and havent found it there or anywhere

  6. OMG ditto, y'all.

    middle of the night dozing
    half asleep on the couch.
    clicked onto it by random.
    sat up and didn't sleep
    after seeing that.

    sat around sleepy
    confused, amazed.

    funny to see that others
    had a like experience.


  7. Saw the program this morning and was similarly impressed. For those wondering what its all about, it is telling the story of the Lenin's life (and the Soviet Union's), his rise to power in a popular peasant's revolution, the evolution and codification of the revolutionary ideal (the young women with red handkerchiefs transforming into the Soviet era regimented swimmers and "young pioneers" -- white shirted girls. The increasing barbarism of the bureaucracy -- the men in suits at the desk. Attempts at counter revolution -- the reappearance of the girls -- their suppression. The development of a soviet iconography etc, Its a fantastically creative telling of a complex story.

  8. Its so amazing to see that most people have seen this in the same accidental way! I was up VERY late one night with my usual TV Insomnia, and channel surfing saw stairs and stoped to see what it was, then could not stop watching! My mind was in a frenzy, i wanted to know what was going on, how the heck all those stairs kept going and going! I am in the process of attempting to find a video of this piece to see it again since I was half asleep when watching it last time, and it was years ago. If anyone has found a clip please let me know!

  9. Does anyone have any idea how the heck they filmed that? It seems especially difficult to cover any cuts or restarts due to the way the sky is billowing and changing colors. Obviously it can't be continuous because the troupe has climbed well over 50 "floors" before they reach the top. Also the lady in black with the fabulous tush keeps reappearing at every 3rd or 4th floor.

  10. ^^^ There are cuts every time they get to a 'landing' which explains why whomever arrives on the landing doesn't actually ascend the next flight.

  11. For anyone who might stumble across this thread, the video is now on YouTube: