BURNT BY THE SUN
DIRECTOR: NIKITA MIKHALKOV
COUNTRY: RUSSIA 1994
CINEMATOGRAPHY: VILEN KALUTIA
MUSIC: EDWARD ARTEMIEV
CAST: Nikita Mikhalkov, Nadya Mikhalkov, Ingeborga Dapkunaite, Viatcheslav Tikhonov, Svetlana Kriutchkova, Vladimir Ilyine
WRITTEN BY: Nikita
SUPER FEATURES: Whew...... Some film
One can only wonder if this guy can make a bad film. Compared to the other film it ran against for the BEST FOREIGN FILM, category of the Oscars, I have to admit that this film is no less poignant than the other, and that
it may not have been the better of the two. But it has two things that do help it along, and do make it a more irresistible film not to vote for. All through out it has something positive to work with, and it is so damn infectious that it is no wonder that Nikita took her to the Oscar stand with him..... she is special. BEFORE THE RAIN, is a great film, but it lacks some joie de vivre. It is a film that is much too sad, for the fact that the whole area has been beaten down so much that they do not know what it means to enjoy life.
BURNT BY THE SUN makes sure that we know what enjoying life means before it comes to a sad, and brutal ending. But, unlike the other film, this ending is quick, and makes sure that it does not dwell on it too much, something which is just right for American audiences, so steeped in a Walt Disney world. Before The Rain, had never even seen, or appreciated life as we know it, or had ever imagined it could be. The draw could/should have been a tie, were
it not by a little girl that is phenomenal and just takes your heart away so easily, it is scary.
And SHE is good, and sets the tone for the whole film. The whole story is pretty much seen through her eyes, and her magical feeling. And if her life has been hell since, we really do not learn much about it, except that there were some good days, just sidetracked by a few bad things along the way. In her case, most of them were invisible, and they never found out what went on until many years later, after the world war even. And by that time, things, records, any kind of information was long gone, destroyed in another rubble.
This is the story of a family that stays together for a long time, until an old lover of the wife appears. And then, it seems that the political game starts. We are not given to what is really happening, except that this one man obviously has a job to do. And the semi retired general, continues to take his life as if nothing mattered, or at least, living, was the only thing that mattered.
In between, are the things that make this the special film that it really is. We are never encumbered by the political movements until the very last several minutes of the film. And by then, it is obvious that what the general was doing, was out dated, and by the time he got his own shrine done, already replaced by another system, which just may be the real reason why he is semi retired in the first place.
Like the little girl, we never really find out what the reasons are, and life just continues on. So does this film. And when it drops its bomb, it is quick, efficient, and over with, before you can say and do anything. And the best line is in the end, that this film is devoted to all those that were burnt by the revolution, and real ANY revolution, because all they did was destroy the magic of the feeling that it once was to live as a child in a world where it all appeared so magical, and so much fun.
Without being about politics, as Jean Luc Godard once said, this is a very political film, and an excellent one. But it leaves the ideas to the idealists, and lets us see what ever else is left. And what we miss is that one part of us ..... and what makes this film such an incredible irresistible force. It is also the deadly force that kills in the end. But the way it is presented, this is, still, a truly beautiful work of direction and design. And its themes are never hammered, lest they look silly and rank, like the balloon that is raised with Stalin's face on it. A tribute, but, like the events in the film, one that was created by those burnt by the sun of idealism.
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