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The film is based on the musical recording of the famous opera by Modest Mussorgsky about the tragic events surrounding the ruling of the Russian tsar Boris in the early 17th century. The recording was actually made two years before the filming with the participation of the Washington Symphony Orchestra (conducted by Mstislav Rostropovich) and several opera stars (the part of Marina is sung by Galina Vishnevskaya). Zulawski made the film just as we would be watching the theatrical performance. Then we are going through the sets and, finally, we notice the film crew. The director deliberately filled the picture with a plenty of anachronisms making the implications on the Soviet history and the other dictatorships of the 20th century. Written by
Yuri German <email@example.com>
The character of "Xenia" is Tsar Boris' daughter in the Opera. The director wanted to spice up Boris' character and changed Xenia into one of his servants who becomes his mistress, but when wealth and luxury send her mad, she betrays him, precipitating his downfall. The producers, and especially the conductor, were so offended when they came on the set to witness Xenia depicted as a half-crazed woman living in luxury, they insisted the role be cut-down. However, since most of the role had been shot with the lead, they couldn't cut it out entirely, so the audience can catch glimpses of a young woman, looking different in every scene, hanging around Boris for no particular reason. It was not enough to tone the controversy down: the purists felt that the director meant to portray Boris as incestuous, and the producers sided with them against the director in the press, ultimately disowned the film and kept its release to a strict minimum. Kaline Carr as Xenia is generally not mentioned in the credits, although she was widely mentioned in the press as such and is on one of the posters for the film with Ruggero Raimondi (Boris). See more »
This is the best opera-inspired film I have ever seen. It's not what we frequently see: a filming of a theater performance. This is a masterpiece of its own, with the force and drama of Mussorgsky's music, but added with the insight of a professional film-maker. You will see wonderful scenes and color, with some artistic freedom to achieve cinematographic characters that really makes you understand the inner drama of a complex and appealing historic personage.
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