Russia Cinema The White Sun of the Desert (1969)

The White Sun of the Desert (1969)

An adventure movie

Mosfilm Experimental Film Studio/Lenfilm Production Base, 1969

Director: Vladimir Motyl

Screenplay: Valentin Yezhov, Rustam Ibragimbekov

Text of letters: Mark Zakharov

Cinematography: Eduard Rozovsky

Composer: Isaac Schwartz

Song lyrics: Bulat Okudzhava

Cast: Anatoly Kuznetsov, Spartak Mishulin, Kakhi Kavsazde, Pavel Luspekayev, Raisa Kurkina, Tamara Fedotova, Nikolai Godovikov, Mikhail Dudayev, Nikolai Badiev, Tatyana Tkach

Box-office leader (1970, 10th place): 34.5 million viewers

Red Army soldier Fyodor Sukhov has spent many days and nights tramping across the desert, fighting the civil war in Russian Asia. After various adventures from the Amur to Turkestan, he is demobilised. He has one dream – to reach home without encountering any more adventures and finally be with his wife, whom he has not seen for many years. His thoughts read like a long and involved letter. Inadvertently, however, he is caught up in a fight between a Red Army cavalry unit and a guerrilla leader, Black Abdullah, whose band of rebels has been killing and pillaging across the desert. Sukhov has to guard and protect the harem of Abdullah’s nine wives, before dealing with Abdullah himself.

This famous film by director Vladimir Motyl is often called the first Soviet action movie. It has also been classified as a “Red Western” and a romantic drama. The White Sun of the Desert was initially given a negative reaction by the critics, suggesting it would spend many years on the shelf. Contrary to expectations, however, it broke all box-office records and many of the punch lines have now entered the Russian language.

In keeping with the laws of the genre, the director serves up the dynamic story of a courageous hero fighting rebels on the backdrop of an exotic landscape. He also finds room, however, for “lyricism and psychology and philosophy.” The film is a wonderful celebration of human dignity, loyalty, friendship and bravery. Embodying the best features of the national character, the two main characters – Sukhov and Vereschagin – are like the heroes of traditional “Russian soldier” fairytales.

Random articles