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Boris Godounov (1989)

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 ... See full summary »


Andrzej Zulawski


Alexander Pushkin (libretto) (as Alexandre Pouchkine)




Cast overview, first billed only:
Ruggero Raimondi ... Boris Godounov
Kenneth Riegel Kenneth Riegel ... Le prince Chouïski
Bernard Lefort Bernard Lefort ... Pimène
Paul Plishka Paul Plishka ... Pimène (singing voice)
Pavel Slabý Pavel Slabý ... Grigori / L'innocent (as Pavel Slaby)
Wyatscheslaw Polozov Wyatscheslaw Polozov ... Grigori (singing voice)
Nicolai Gedda ... L'innocent (singing voice)
Delphine Forest ... Marina Mnichek
Galina Vishnevskaya ... Marina Mnichek / L'aubergiste (singing voice)
Romuald Tesarowicz Romuald Tesarowicz ... Varlaam
Zoran Cvijanovic Zoran Cvijanovic ... Missaïl
Misha Raitzin Misha Raitzin ... Missaïl (singing voice) (as Micha Raitzin)
Anne-Marie Pisani ... L'aubergiste
Kaline Carr ... Xenia (as Caroline Carr)
Uros Aleksandric Uros Aleksandric ... Fiodor


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 <blsidt1@imf.org>

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Musical | Drama


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Did You Know?


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 »

User Reviews

7 July 2011 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

Boris Godunov is a masterpiece, the title character is one that lives long into the memory, the story is compelling and Mussorgsky's music is sublime. This 1989 Boris Godunov is wonderful, I prefer the 1990 production for Valery Gergiev's amazing conducting, but the conducting here is still great. The costumes, sets and photography are ravishing, and possibly more ornate and appealing than the other production I spoke of, and many scenes especially the Coronation scene and Death scene are beautifully staged. The performances are first rate, of the support cast, Paul Plishka as the voice of Pimen stood out as exceptional, and Dimitri, Marina and Varlaam are more than convincingly portrayed. Best of all though is the towering and often moving performance of singing-actor Ruggero Raimondi. Overall, this Boris Godunov is wonderful. 9/10 Bethany Cox

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Release Date:

20 December 1989 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Boris Godunov See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Color (Fujicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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