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Burnt By The Sun
Burnt By The Sun Burnt By The Sun
  this stunning, Oscar-
  winning world cinema
  classic is a fascinating
  masterpiece set in the
  unforgiving Stalinist
  Russia of the 1930s

BURNT BY THE SUN opens with a young man, Dmitri Andreevich (Oleg Menchikov), with his valet, Phillippe (André Oumansky), picking up the telephone in his apartment to seal an agreement…

At the same time, military tanks are lining up on a wheat-field in the Russian countryside. An elderly woman is so incensed that she beats one of the tanks with a stick —
"you can crush me," she cries defiantly, "but not the wheat."

To the rescue comes the influential Sergueï Kotov (Nikita Mikhalkov) —
a "glorious hero of the Revolution, renowned Bolshevik and legendary colonel". He and his wife Maroussia (Ingeborga Dapkounaïté) have a child, six-year-old Nadia (the delightful Nadia Mikhalkov, playing her own father's daughter), and live an idyllic life in a lovely home in the country along with close family members. Everything appears to be perfect.

But one lazy summer's day their peaceful existence is threatened by the arrival of the mysterious piano-playing Dmitri —
Maroussia's former love and protégé of her respected musical conductor father, Boris Konstantinovich. Dmitri disappeared from Maroussia's life ten years earlier — before she'd met Sergueï — and that had had a devastating effect on her emotional well-being.

The charming and talented Dmitri —
known as Mitia — entertains the family with his songs and stories that have more than an element of uncomfortable truth about them. But Kotov is deeply suspicious of their guest and believes there may be more sinister motives to his visit, other than Dmitri's desire to return to the place where he was once feted and cosseted by Boris Konstantinovich, whose daughter he loved.

At the performance of works by the Communist composer Miniaev, in honour of the Sixth Anniversary of the celebrations for the construc-tion of Stalin's balloons and airships, Nadia and her adored father take a relaxing boat trip down the river in a very touching scene that is somehow at odds with the announcement from a loudspeaker: "Red Civilian Defence is the safeguard of the Soviet land against the aggression of world imperialism. Happy Holiday, dear comrades!"

The youth of Nadia set against the elderly grandparents works well. Maroussia's grandfather, Vsevolod Konstantinovich (Viatcheslav Tikhonov), reflects sadly: "My friends, as Pushkin said, are no more or are far away…" And Nadia dances and sings her song that echoes a sadness and has a significance for the film: "Burned by the sun as the crimson sea did run; I heard you say, my dove, that there would be
no love..."

What is the mystery behind the truck, whose driver is looking for a possibly non-existent village of Zagorianka or Zagorienka? And are the innocent truly as safe as they feel?

Burnt By The Sun is full of seemingly innocent imagery that mirrors
the depth of passion and despair of the characters. In one memorable scene, Maroussia and Mitia are playing the piano wearing the gas masks from the Civilian Defence Regiment training and everyone dances the Can-Can with pure joy.

There are recurring images of fireballs across the water and through the trees; at one stage entering the house. Dmitri picks up a guitar and sings Nadia's song and one of the fireballs sets a tree alight.

Burnt By The Sun has a pool of acting talent that also includes: Svet-lana Krioutchkova as Mokhova; Vladimir Ilyine as Kirik; Alla Kazanskaïa as Lidia Stepanovna; Nina Arkhipova as Elena Mikhailovna; Avangard Leontiev as The Chauffeur; Inna Oulianova as Olga Nikolaïevna; and Lioubov Roudnieva as Liouba Groucheva.

Adapted by the film's star, Nikita Mikhalkov and also Roustam Ibraguim-bekov, Burnt By The Sun is set against the growing threat of Stalin's regime of terror. This poignant film lingers in your mind and received huge critical acclaim upon its release, garnering Best Foreign Language Film at the 67th Academy Awards.

As well as playing the lead role of Sergueï, talented actor and film-maker Nikita Mikhalkov wrote and directed Burnt By The Sun. He has completed a sequel, which is due to be released at cinemas later this year (2008).

Burnt By The Sun, released by Second Sight on 31 March (2008), is priced at RRP £19.99.

"The superb ensemble acting and powerful imagery will linger in the mind" —

"A major film" —

"Burnt By The Sun is full of seemingly-innocent imagery that mirrors the depth of passion and despair of the characters… a simmering pool of talented acting…" —