In the bleak filmscape of glasnost, The Needle stood out as a black sheep of a movie. The most playful and offbeat of the Soviet films of the period, it contrasted sharply to the mainstream, which was overwhelmed with revisionism of the Stalinist past and nihilistic social criticism.
Made in 1988 by a young Kazakh director, Rashid Nugmanov, fresh out of VGIK (the national film school), The Needle was a pioneering effort in several ways. Having e from a remote, stagnant republic of Kazakhstan, the picture set off a movement that has e to be known as the "Kazakh New Wave." Represented by such works as Alexander Baranov's and Bakhyt Kilibayev's The Three (1988) and Woman of the Day (1990); Kilibayev's The Tick (1990); Baranov's He and She (1990); Abai Karpykov's Little Fish in Love (1989); and Serik Aprymov's The Last Stop (1989), the Kazakh New Wave was for the agonizing Soviet film of the late 1980s what the French New Wave was for the dusty French film of the late 1950s. The Needle was the movement's a bout de souffle. The film also became a model for the Russian version of postmodernism—uninhibited and uninformed, pensating for the lack of culture, skill, and resources with mischief and wit. A young man named Moro (played by Viktor Tsoi, the late rock 'n' roll legend from the St. Petersburg band "Kino") returns to his Asiatic hometown only to find his exgirlfriend, Dina (Marina Smirnova), being a drug addict and himself being involved in the bizarre life of the city's underworld. In an attempt to save Dina, Moro takes her away to the Aral Sea, turned into a barren desert by the time they arrive. There Dina seems cured, but back in town everything starts anew. Almost desperate, Moro decides to fight the drug dealers, led by a hospital doctor (played by another rock 'n' roll star, eccentric leader of the "Sound of Mu" band and the future star of Taxi Blues, Pyotr Mamonov), when one of them stabs him in a deserted park.