Do you love tracking shots and performative verisimilitude? Well, do I have a YouTube video for you. It’s called “Vladimir Putin’s presidential inauguration ceremony in Kremlin,” and it was uploaded by Russia Today.
Let me set the scene: It starts in a grand interior hall, with a parade of officials marching in procession while music plays through a large crowd of attendees. Cut to a series of long shots. First, a Russian official leaves his car and enters the building. Then it’s Putin’s turn. The Russian president walks alone down a large, cavernous hallway to grand stairs. He continues outside, to find a series of vehicles waiting for his arrival. The cars leave and the fun begins.
We see Putin’s motorcade drive through the streets of Moscow for a good seven minutes. It’s a car ballet, with motorcycles and other vehicles following Putin’s limo–all in formation. This is all transmitted through a series of aerial shots. The streets are empty, the cars drive, and the message is clear: Putin has shut down the city so he can be ushered along. The cars arrive, and Putin enters into the event, where he is met by a seemingly never-ending trail of attendees in standing ovation. He turns corners–more people applauding.
While the ceremony itself was 17 minutes. The video of the entire proceeding was over 51 minutes long. It finishes with a long series of—you guessed it—more tracking shots of Putin leaving and gazing upon a parade in his honor.
Granted, pomp and circumstance are not unusual in state events, but this emphasis on showcasing Putin’s arrival and departure exhibits a rare level of theatricality. It looks like a taped introduction to an awards show, or maybe the scenes leading up to when a comedian begins a standup special. The intent, so far as I can tell, is to put a cinematic spin onto a national ceremony.
It’s truly wild to watch, equal parts hilarious and frightening. You can see it here:
Correction: An earlier version of of this post linked to Putin’s 2012 inauguration video.