In the Soviet Union in 1936, shadow of Stalin's repressions lie on a famous revolution hero. An accusations of being him a foreign spy are nonsense, and all known that, but a slow process of his life's downfall is already running.
Third film based on Boris Akunin's "Priklucheniya Erasta Petrovicha Fandorina" series of novels. On a train from St. Petersburg to Moscow general Khrapov was killed and no one else but ... See full summary »
Olga Voznesenskaya is a silent screen star whose pictures are so popular that underground revolutionaries risk capture to see them. She's in southern Russia filming a tear-jerker as the ... See full summary »
Tamara and Sasha were separated during the war. Now (1957) Sasha is visiting Moscow for five days and by chance recognizes the house where Tamara used to live. She is still living there with her nephew Slava.
St. Petersburg, mid 19th century: the indolent, middle-aged Oblomov lives in a flat with his older servant, Zakhar. He sleeps much of the day, dreaming of his childhood on his parents' ... See full summary »
Epic film about WWII, a sequel to Burnt by the Sun (1994). Evil Stalin is terrorizing people of Russia while the Nazis are advancing. Russian officer Kotov, who miraculously survived the death sentence in Stalin's Purge, is now fighting in the front lines. His daughter, Nadia, who survived a rape attempt by Nazi soldiers, is now a nurse risking her own life to save others. In the war-torn nation even former enemies are fighting together to defend their land. People stand up united for the sake of victory. The deadly war comes at very high cost: the Nazis are killing people, burning villages, raping women, bombing churches, destroying bridges. Hoping to survive, Kotov and his daughter are having visions of each other, but their dreams fade amidst massive bombardment. Fire and smoke eclipses the sun. The land around becomes lifeless, defenseless and littered with the dead. Then the dead are covered by snow. Life is over. Only a butterfly is flying above the weapons and corpses, alluding...Written by
Utomlyonnye solntsem 2: Predstoyanye (Burnt by the Sun: Anticipation) is the sequel to Nikita Mikhalkov's exceptional 1994 period drama about Stalin's political repressions in the 1930s. However, a lot of water has passed under the bridge in 15 years and the poignancy of the original is certainly lost here.
This film follows the struggles of the repressed Kotov family and the man who is responsible for their plight through the Soviet theater of WW2. The plot is neither simple enough to be called a drama nor expansive enough to be an epic. Instead its a picaresque flow of vignettes reminiscent of a play - the majority of scenes have retained the original film's intimacy, with few actors on screen at the same time.
In terms of direction I was impressed in places, though mostly by technical skill rather than revelatory plot devices or subtle acting. The restrained use of sound effects and music that worked so well in the first film is definitely one of this sequel's redeeming features.
On a less positive note, I was exasperated by the treatment of suffering Mikhalkov offers his audience - many characters spend their entire screen time whimpering, crying or cowering in the rubble - not exactly the Tears and Glory that many have come to expect from the genre. We can only hope the Glory will come in the third film (we are, after all, in Anticipation).
As an actor Nikita Mikhalkov is accomplished and energetic as always, but the show is easily stolen by Sergei Makovetsky, gingerly portraying a sympathetic SMERSH officer stuck in a catch 22, as well as Mikhalkov's promising daughter Nadya as a tormented young Pioneer lost in the landscape of war. I should note that Makovetsky recently starred in the considerably more engaging WW2 saga "The Priest" and is on something of a roll lately.
Despite the overall quality of the cast the direction takes an unusual approach to a number of performers - Dmitriy Dyuzhev of Brigada fame, for example, spends the entire film whimpering unconvincingly - something he was obviously never designed for. Oleg Menshikov, a fine period actor many will know for playing Yerast Fandorin in 'Statski Sovetnik", is no more or less wooden than grandma's kitchen ladle - it seems Mikhalkov was simply uninterested in engaging this actor.
Considering how much money was spent, production values are quite low in places - props often seem lonely on battlefields and costumes lack imagination. Perhaps most of it went to the actors that managed to cozy up to this lucrative gig... In any case, a number of scenes feel cheap and give the entire production an air of inconsistency.
Last but not least, it would be a shame not to mention Mikhalkov's own fate. Most foreigners will be unaware of the fact that in the 15 years since the release of the original movie, Mikhalkov has become a close friend and associate of a leader himself accused of political repression - Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. I would have no qualms with this ordinarily, assuming that all the funds his efforts raised were spent making great movies. Unfortunately, Mikhalkov's tenure as figurehead of Russia's film industry did not produce many quality films. Certainly, none by Mikhalkov himself.
The bottom line: a sequel unworthy of its predecessor in almost every way, but good enough to own on DVD or watch with the family.
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