Mikhail Kozyrev, who composed the soundtrack for the film, said
in 2020: “After all, Bodrov doesn’t say a word about what truth is, what it is. Is the truth that money is evil? That you should love your neighbor? That human life is the most important thing? There isn’t any such explanation anywhere.”The true conflict of Balabanov's melodrama
I suppose the secret of the film’s popularity is not its clumsy plot or even beautiful songs – it’s the form of Brother 2
. It is the form that will be inherited by today's troubadours of war.
The form is melodramatic. After all, the melodramatic mode, as literary theory teaches (for example, see Peter Brooks’ classic Melodramatic Imagination
), is distinguished by moral polarization and schematic construction of characters. In Brother 2
both are found in abundance. Balabanov (the director and scriptwriter) constantly doubles the characters, thereby doubling the polarization: there are two oligarchs (both villains) and two pairs of brothers (in each one is good and one bad), Danila has two mistresses and there are even two evil taxi drivers.
Another important element of melodrama is outright wickedness, offended virtue and the final victory over evil. The villains in Brother 2
do every sort of evil besides eating babies. Virtue regularly suffers: Danila is twice (again for symmetry) beaten to the bone, he, the poor fellow, suffers in the rain without shelter and without money, waiting for his unfaithful brother, who in the meantime is rotting away in the brothels of Chicago. But all ends well, of course.
The melodramatic imagination is also characterized by “the indulgence of strong emotionalism.” At first glance, this is not the case in Brother 2
– on the contrary, the main character is basically unemotional and invariably cool. However, this emotionality is removed from the characters and put into the background – namely the soundtrack and poetic accompaniment.
The powerful soundtrack greatly enhances the emotional component of the film, headlined by “Goodbye, America!” by Vyacheslav Butusov, which is first sung by a children's choir in the frame and then in the finale plays in the background as the characters return home. But Balabanov goes even further, weaving into the fabric of the film a nursery rhyme by an unknown author about how "I love everyone on earth." (In the credits, the author isn't indicated. Originally it was thought to be the children's poet Vladimir Orlov. Later a slightly different version of the text was found in the magazine Kolobok
, where the Yukaghir poet Nikolai Kurilev [Mikalai Kurileu] was listed as the author, with the translation by Mikhail Yasnov).
Having heard it once sung by the son of the oligarch, Danila is so imbued with poetic thought that he repeats the rhyme like a mantra, both when he’s preparing to shoot black gangsters and when he climbs the fire escape to punish the vile Mennis. If the message of "Goodbye, America!" is unambiguous, then the rhyme is a little more complicated. In the latter is a manifestation of entirely pure affection for the surrounding natural world, but in the context of combat the peaceful children's poem is turned into a militant hymn to nationalism, the logic of which is that only “everything of ours, everything native” is worthy of love and we’ll shoot up whatever isn’t without mercy. Such is the logic of any ultra-nationalism, not only Russian, of course.