"Burnt by the sun" by Carmen Toader
"Burnt by the sun"
a film "dedicated to all those who were burned by the sun of the Revolution"
The film "Burnt by the sun" presents a dramatic story that took place in interwar Russia, clogged in the damaging Stalinist doctrine. It is directed by the famous Nikita Mihalkov, and, in the cast, it even has the director, as Sergei Kotov, Oleg Menshikov, as Mitea and Ingerborga Dapkūnaitė, as Marusia, Sergei's wife.
The masterpieces of the Russian director born in 1945 have been awarded at various prestigious film festivals. In 1994, "Burnt by the sun" received an Oscar for Best Foreign Film. The film was shot in a Franco-Russian co-production, and the screenplay was written with absolute mastery by the Azerbaijani Rustam Ibraghimbekov together with the Russian director.
As for me, this fairytale world created by Mikhailov is surrounded by mystery, by metaphors not cumbersome and twisted, but, on the contrary, metaphors of amazing effervescence, which penetrate the depths of your being. At some point, I felt that the director plays with the viewer's feelings, carrying him on the wings of humour, but also in the absurdity of this fairy tale meant to be broken.
The movie introduces us to a scorching Sunday in the family of Colonel Sergei Kotov, a hero of the 1918 Revolution and a confidential friend of Stalin. The whole action takes place in a single day, from morning until dusk. The bucolic landscape is intruded by the fortuitous appearance of Mitea (Dmitri), a former soldier in the White Army, who seems to be intending something beyond his friendly and youthful nature. He had been the fiancé of Sergei's wife before he miraculously vanished from her life and left her in anguish. Which will push her to commit suicide. In fact, he was part of the Soviet secret police and had come to arrest Kotov on baseless charges. The ending? The ending is destructive, but at the same time revealing.
The film is a scream of revolt against the regime in a country robotized by the law and the principle of a single man who could trample on any ethical values we take for granted today (friendship, truth, justice, family). Its title creates a horizon of waiting, being highlighted by the scene in which we can see how a little and glowing globe, like a sun, passes the scene for the last time. That small globe is the evil disguised as good, the evil that invites you to follow it, that constantly stalks you, and when it fades, it leaves you in stifling gloom. By analogy, Kotov finally understands that the ideals he had so hard defended "burned" him to the bone.
The actor’s performances are extraordinary, full of an overwhelming fusion of sentiments. Colonel Kotov is a genuine socialist, a visionary, but Mitea is an unprincipled scoundrel who relies only on his gains, which, in the end, is destroyed by the system it had been bought to serve. He plays the cunning and intelligent man, who carries out orders from his superiors. An executor more useful to the Kremlin dictator than Kotov because of the subtlety of his efficiency. Nadejda Mihalkova (the director's daughter) is also noticed, as the daughter of Marusia and Serghei, who is the innocent witness of the events that destroy her family, but who are not aware of anything yet. No one does, because the colonel gives the impression that he is going on a trip as friends and even allows her to come with them to the crossroads.
Without further ado, the awards received, but also the subtle message of the film make it an unparalleled masterpiece in the world of Russian film and beyond. "Burnt by the sun" is a bold film about human misery and the power to stand above it, even when the ideals you believed in pull you down.
Carmen Toader is from Buzau, Romania. She enjoys bringing up to life her ideas and making them flow like a quiet river.