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The White Sun of the Desert
The White Sun of the Desert
Actors: Anatoli Kuznetsov, Spartak Mishulin, Kakhi Kavsadze, Pavel Luspekayev, Raisa Kurkina
Director: Vladimir Motyl
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Comedy, Drama, Military & War
UR     2004     1hr 25min

In this international cult favorite, a Central-Asian action film, the Red Army clashes with counter-revolutionary robber bands. Demobbed soldier Fyodor Sukhov is making his way through the desert to his home village, where...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Anatoli Kuznetsov, Spartak Mishulin, Kakhi Kavsadze, Pavel Luspekayev, Raisa Kurkina
Director: Vladimir Motyl
Creators: Eduard Rozovsky, Mark Zakharov, Rustam Ibragimbekov, Valentin Ezhov
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Comedy, Drama, Military & War
Sub-Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Romantic Comedies, Love & Romance, Military & War
Studio: Image Entertainment
Format: DVD - Color - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 01/06/2004
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 1hr 25min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: Russian
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

The best overall Russian film of the Soviet period
Arkadiy Dubovoy | Virginia | 02/03/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Among Soviet movies there are more expensive (Bondarchuk's War and Peace) and more intellectual (Sokurov, Tarkovsky), but The White Sun of the Desert remains the best known and the most popular Russian film ever made. If you ask people (especially men) who were born and raised in the former Soviet Union, you will be convinced by their enthusiastic response and expression of love for this movie. It is rare indeed for a work of art to elicit such a uniform and unconditional admiration, and there must be something about this film which deserves such a reaction from several hundred million people.

There is a lot of myths and legends surrounding the creation of this film.
One legend (which is probably true) has it that, after the movie was made, it was censored and "put on the shelf" never to be seen again. Then, one dark and stormy night, there was a call to the State Film Archives from Brezhnev's dacha (suburban mansion). They were asking for something new for the "big boss" to watch. The clerk on duty, scared out of his wits, picked up a reel-box and sent it with the awaiting car. Brezhnev (who was not senile yet) liked the movie and asked why it has not been released. The rest is history.

The timeless appeal of this movie, as any other true work of art, is that you can watch it time after time, never tire of it, and find something new and interesting about it. Every kind of viewer will find something to like about this film: excellent direction, good actor's work, well-developed characters, unusual plot line, and a lot of action. And the best of all: it is based on the true events.
The original intent of the movie was to shoot another action flick about the Red Army fighting anti-soviet bands in the Middle Asia after the Civil War. Another legend has it that when one of the old Red Army soldiers who participated in actual fighting was asked by the script-writer and director about the difficulties of the time, he thought about it for a while and then said that the most difficult question was what to do with all those women coming from harems of bandits who were either killed or in hiding. That created the wonderful story line of the movie.

The quality of image transfer on this DVD is very good. If you watch many foreign language movies, you probably know that the best way is to read the subtitles, not listen to the dubbed version, which is not good anyway.
If you are interested in cinematography, you cannot do without watching this film. If you just would like to watch an interesting movie - get it, you won't regret."
A Classic in Russia
Curtis Allan | Seattle, WA | 03/10/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This is a Russian classic worth checking out if your are interesting in having a knowledge of world cinema, or a must-see if you are an educated action-film fan. It is reportedly watched by Russian cosmonauts before every space launch. It is also considered the most memorable of the "Ostern" sub-genre of action films. Osterns were action flics set in Central Asia during the 1920s (or as late as the 30s), during or after the period of the Russian Civil War, when the Soviets reconquered the Turkic and Mongol peoples who had regained some autonomy during the chaos of the Bolshevik Revolution. The White Sun of the Desert has all the political sensitivity of a 1930s Western, but it is still widely revered in Russia (perhaps that says something about the people, I won't speculate). Apparently the lines in this film are as allegorical to modern Russian dialogue as those of The Wizard of Oz are to American vernacular. While most of that sarcasm and culturally classic dialogue flew right over my head in the subtitles (if they even made it into the translation), its still a fun enough film to watch just on its more basic merits. The story is simple, the costumes comfortable, the locale exotic and interesting, and much of the sarcasm translates visually. I would recommend buying this to anyone who wants to have a broad DVD collection (people who can see beyond the obvious limitations of the AFI's "top 100" lists). This is at or near the top of most lists of Russian films, and I personally liked it much better than the overrated "classic" Russian silents."
A Russian Classic
William D. Shingleton | United States | 05/26/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is a classic Russian film that even today is ranked among the 10 most popular films in the country. The story of a Russian in a strange land (in this case, Central Asia) was the Russian answer to the popularity of spaghetti Westerns in the United States. Last I heard, it was actually a tradition for cosmonauts to watch White Sun of the Desert before they were launched into space.The film is surprisinly sensitive to the cultural differences between Russia and Central Asia, although obviously all of these are seen through the rubric of the New Soviet Man. The story with Sukhov and Abdullah is compelling, as are a series of side plots. The main problem with the film for those who do not speak Russian as a first language is the poor sound quality, a legacy of 1969 technology and the age of the film. Can't say that I've listened to the English dubbing, but my guess is that the subtitles will suffice to get the point across."
Great movie, worth a better translation.
Anton | Dallas, TX | 05/11/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I'd give 4 stars for this DVD release. The movie itself has a special place for anyone who grew up watching soviet movies. To relate the atmosphere of an old 60's soviet "eastern" is not easy to an american viewer, and I believe a better english dubbing could do this movie a better justice. Besides that, it's a must have, particularly for any russian ex-pat."