Russian film warns of pride, betrayal
The Shippensburg University Department of Global Languages and Cultures brought “Burnt by the Sun,” an award-winning Russian film concerning the Great Purge of Stalinist Russia to the Orndorff Theatre last Tuesday.
The film is the first installment in a year-round festival called “And the Oscar Goes To…,” an initiative by the Department of Global Languages and Cultures to bring international films from across the world to SU students. Every year, one film produced outside of the United States is awarded an Oscar and “Burnt by the Sun” won its own in 1995.
Department professor David Wildermuth presented the film and explained the context before it began.
“This film is ultimately a tragedy — for family, and for society,” Wildermuth said.
The 1994 film “Burnt by the Sun,” directed and written by Nikita Mikhalkov and Rustam Ibragimbekov, tells the story of Sergei Kotov, a colonel in the Red Army.
Kotov is a high-ranked officer and a well-respected war hero of the Russian Civil War. Kotov, who was very close to Stalin, is eventually betrayed and brought in by Stalin’s agents, who execute him after Kotov plead guilty to false charges.
The film’s title is a play on the song “Burnt by the Sun” by Jerzy Petersburski. It is a reference to the fable of Icarus, a hubris man who was burned after flying too close to the sun.
In the context of the film, totalitarian regimes, such as that found in Soviet Russia, consume what they were meant to defend, including their leaders. Kotov realizes this too late when Stalin has him killed without a trial.
“The Official Story,” an Argentinian film with English subtitles, is the next film in the series to be shown on Sept. 26 at 6:30 p.m. in the Ceddia Union Building’s Orndorff Theatre. This will be followed by “The Secret in Their Eyes,” “Das Leben der Anderen” and “A Fantastic Woman” later in the year.
“Shippensburg seems far away from the rest of the world. We want to bring these cultures here in a way that wouldn’t be seen in typical theaters,” Wildermuth said.
Wildermuth also distributed a sign-up list to gauge student interest in a new Russian curriculum.