Burnt by the Sun (1995) by Nikita Mikhalkov

Nikita and Nadezhda Mikhalkova
Вы вообще в заоопарке были?
В заоопарке были? 
А как же?
А почему збежали, что плохо кормили?

The film, Burnt by the Sun (1995) (Утомлённое солнцем) captures the period of Soviet history just before Stalin’s Great Purges. It’s a good pick for anyone interested in Russia and its gruesome past. Nikita Sergeyevich Mikhalkov produced, directed and even starred in it along with his daughter, Nadezhda Mikhalkova. Needless to say, there was a message he wanted to get across to the public.

In one of his interviews, he defended the film as an artistic creation rather than a historical documentary but acknowledged that his portrayal of that time in history is the reality for him, it is the way he views and understands that period. He presents the turn of events from many different viewpoints without laying the blame on anyone in particular, “what right do we have, looking back with the hindsight of the 1990’s, to analyze any of the past eras and condemn them for what happened then?” Nikita Sergeyevich claimed that he wanted to go beyond judging the age. “I am only trying to show through a tragic perspective, the charm of a simple existence: of children being born, of people loving each other, living their life’s moments, and having faith that all that was happening around them was for the best,” said he.

Where Does the Title, Burnt by the Sun Come From?

The title, Burnt by the Sun served as the spinal of the film. It got borrowed from a popular song from the 1930’s, originally composed by Jerzy Petersburski as a Polish tango, “To Ostantnia Niedziela.” Eventually, the song tangoed its way into the Soviet Union and picked up the name, Утомлённое Cолнце, Burnt by the Sun. The director first heard it in a film produced by his brother and liked it so much that he stole it for his production. He structured his work around the melody by weaving it in and out of nearly every scene. Nadia hummed it while dancing the tango down the hallway. Kirk loaded it into the photograph as they breakfasted, Dimitri strummed it on his guitar after his poignant tale, and the melody cha-cha-cha’s in and out of each scene as the story unfolded.

The Plot

Burnt by the Sun was set in 1936 and captures one sunny day. Sergei Kotov, Maroussia and the rest of the family were relishing life at their дача in the village. The house had a poetic, romantic, Chekhovian ambiance— full of light, charm, eccentricities, and deeply saturated in music. Presenting the past in this way, Mikhalkov hoped to project a warning for our generation. He wanted people to be aware that consequential turns in history come subtlety in the midst of everyday life. People need to stay alert to what is going on around them and understand what they the movements they get connected to.

Утомленное солнце
Hежно с морем прощалось,
В этот час ты призналась
Что нет любви.
Мне немного взгрустнулось
Без тоски, без печали.
В этот час прозвучали
Слова твои.
Расстаемся, я не в силах злиться,
Виноваты в этом ты и я.
Утомленное солнце
Hежно с морем прощалось,
В этот час ты призналась,
Что нет любви.