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4.3 out of 5 stars46
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 17 December 2009
This is a wonderful film for many reasons. The cinematography showing the beautiful Russian countryside and idyllic family life is one strength of the film. The quality of the acting, and particularly of the child is very impressive. Where it really strikes home is in the blend of humour, gaiety and impending tragedy colliding together, with the menacing undertones and threat always present throughout the film, but only apparent at the end. This is in many ways a black comedy with pathos, and the ability to leave you feeling angst ridden at its conclusion, knowing that the story represents the experience of so many real lives.
Essentially a retired War Hero finds himself out of favour with Stalin. Whilst engrossed in his idyllic and happy family life we have hints of the impending danger which will see him collected by the former childhood lover of his much younger wife, who a visiting dandy, works for the NKVD. This charming character reveals his true intentions slowly, and one cannot help but share a feeling of helplessness as the precious moments of freedom and life, tick away, as he informs the General of his impending arrest.
The Generals departure in front of his family is with stoicism and the brave face of a military man, and the leaving scene with his child is very poignant.
This is a wonderful film, and the black comedy makes the subject matter somehow more bearable, without compromising the real sense of pathos and haunting sadness it left me with. I would well recommend this film. It touches a grave matter with a lightness of touch, but this should not be mistaken for light hearted.It is the small poignant moments which really testify to the tragic nature of the storyline.
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on 28 July 2000
It must be added to the review comments that the performance by Nadezhda Mikhalkova, who plays the Colonel's young daughter is quite amazing. I'm normally left cold by child actors, particularly the Macaulay Culkin variety, but this little girl's acting is light years away from that, totally absorbing and very touching at times. Given that the plot partially revolves around her being used as a pawn in the game between Mitya and the Colonel, and her importance in the representation of the idyllic pastoral life of the Colonel's family, the achievement is all the more remarkable. I didn't discover until after seeing the film that she is the real life daughter of the director/lead actor. This explains the obvious rapport and affection between them, but Mikhalkov is totally justified in using her for the role.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 8 October 2008
The first half of the film is like a Checkov play, but with plenty of humour. We witness the lyrical existence of a well-off, multi-generational family living in beautiful countryside seemingly immune from Stalin's purges in the 1930s. Gradually one feels a sense of menace and the film becomes darker and more complex. The acting is excellent but one must single out the little girl who plays Nadia whose screen presence and sparkle are quite amazing. A wonderful and moving film.
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VINE VOICEon 10 January 2006
Stalin's crimes are too huge to comprehend on a large scale; this story, focussing as it does on the lives of one family, makes the crimes both more immediate and more unbearable. With its mixture of tragedy, humour, beauty, chilling sense of the uncanny, and the massive violence that suddenly erupts, it's a very Russian film and very, very haunting. One of the best films to be made about this period--along with The Thief, which allegorically depicts the way in which Communism stole the soul of Russia. Burnt by the Sun is a film you'll never forget.
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on 1 December 2003
I can recommend for those who have not seen this film to organise themself before watching (sending kids somewhere else, switching the phones off) because you just want to be a quiet witness of what is going on, it is like you are inside of the story of love, passion, fate and history that requiers sacrifies of many lives. Truly human film with moments of laughter and grief.
it's a must to see it.
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on 13 August 2008
This is set during the Russian Stalinist purges, and is based on a true story. It is nice to look at, taking part during a hot summer. But appearances are deceptive.

Dimitri played by Oleg Menchikov (he played a sinister character in an episode of 'Prime Suspect'), arrives at the home of a decorated Colonel, who lives with his wife Maroussia and their daughter, Nadia. The child who plays Nadia is excellent in her acting. Dimitri is charming and seems but (Edited out by me)

Haunting soundtrack.
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on 31 October 2000
Burnt By The Sun is an incredibly striking and moving film. Telling the true story of a family during one of the worst Stalinist purges of the mid thirties, it is intriguing throughout and involves the reader from the onset. Nikita Mikhailov, the director who also plays the father Sergei, has set the story at the beginning of summer in rural Russia. The action takes place during the course of one day, a Bolshevik holiday. Mikhailov, as director, shows the viewer various sides of Russia, or more precisely the USSR state.
The film is gripping from the beginning. Mikhailov portrays all different aspects of human nature. The characters are all believable and intensely likeable. the cinematography is striking and varied, contrasting luscious rural Russia with grey, bleak, Soviet Moscow. Similarly, the happy atmosphere of the holiday is ruined by the sinister undertones of life during Stalin's era.
Don't be put off by the language - the subtitles are clear and the acting and scenery excellent. This film is a firm favourite of mine.
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on 8 May 2009
Great Russian French co-production. Feeling for period is spot on, great ensemble acting. The end, although predictable, is an insight into how the terror of Stalin in the late 1930s operated. Leaves memories of how people lived through these terrible times and the coming of WW2. Highly recommend.
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on 11 May 2006
The slow, Chekovian first half of this film makes the sudden interruption of Stalinist reality all the more devastating. Beautifully filmed, wonderfully acted. I showed this to a group of English Media Studies school students and they rated it the best film they'd ever seen. Be prepared to cry.
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on 19 October 2009
Burnt by the Sun is a haunting an evocative account of life in Stalin's Soviet Union. But for the viewer, the true horror of totalitarianism only becomes apparent at the end of the film. Initially, Nikita Mikhalkov's subtle directing leads the viewer into a false sense of security. The beautiful Russian countryside and domestic bliss in the Kotov household disguise a far darker presence. But slowly, viewers of the film become increasingly aware that not all is well when Mitya, the NKVD officer (played brilliantly by Oleg Menshikov) appears.

Anyone who is interested in Russia and recent Russian history should see 'Burnt by the Sun'. It starts slowly but builds to a startling climax. The acting and directing are fantastic. A must-see film.
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