White Sun of the Desert / Beloe solntse pustyni
Vladimir Motyl, USSR, 1969.
Directed by: Vladimir Motyl
Script: Valentin Ježov, Rustam Ibragimbekov, Mark Zaharov
Production company: Lenfilm Studios, Mosfilm, Cinema Concern
Cinematography: Eduard Rozovski
Music: Isaak Schwarz
Cast: Raisa Kurkina, Anatolij Kuznjecov, Spartak Mišulin, Pavel Luspekajev, Kakhi Kavsadze, Tatjana Fedotova
Running time: 85'
'White Sun of the Desert' was to be the Soviet answer to the popular Western. Yet, while clearly drawing on Western cinematic tropes, the film undoubtedly spoke to Soviet audiences regarding issues of nation and empire, since it promulgates the nationalist ideals of a Russian-dominated Central Asia. Since the film’s release, however, screenwriter Rustam Ibragimbekov has vehemently denied such intentions. Indeed, looking closely at how director Vladimir Motyl visually constructs the film, it becomes clear that he emphasizes the incompatibility of Soviet and Central Asian cultures, plus the failure of the Soviet project in the East. This was an interesting cinematic stand to take at a time when the idea of the ‘brotherhood of nations’ was still very much alive in Soviet rhetoric. Ultimately we are led to consider the possibility that Russia’s presence in Central Asia not only endangers Russian purity, but also destroys an engaging, exotic, traditional Eastern culture.
Vladimir Motyl (1927-2010, Byelarus) was the son of a Polish immigrant. When he was three , his father was arrested by the security service and died in a punishment camp. The infant Motyl and his mother were exiled to the Urals. He spent his childhood there and became inspired by Charlie Chaplin films. He went to drama school and worked at several theatres before he moved on this his first love: film. His greatest success was 'White Sun of the Desert' (1969).
Location and screening schedule: ZAGREB DANCE CENTER, Friday, October 21st at 18.00