FilmJuice have my review of Nikita Mikhalkov’s five-hour Second World War epic Burnt by the Sun 2.
Burnt by the Sun 2 is one of the most demented films that I have ever come across. Way back in 1994, Mikhalkov co-wrote, co-produced and directed an elegant historical drama named Burnt by the Sun. Set in the run-up to World War 2, the film tells of a complex love triangle comprising an aging hero of the Russian revolution, his beautiful young wife and a concert pianist who spent the revolution on the side of the White Russian aristocracy. Coming relatively soon after the break-up of the Soviet Union, Burnt by the Sun’s nuanced vision of Russian history brought not only considerable critical and commercial success but also the rare accomplishment of winning both an Oscar and a Palme D’Or.
Twenty years later and Mikhalkov has used the international success of Burnt by the Sun to re-invent himself as both a big budget film producer and the man who reportedly leads the institutions of Russian cinema in much the same way as Putin leads the institutions of Russian government. Reportedly one of the most expensive films in the history of Russian cinema, Burnt by the Sun 2 is:
Best described as a five-hour version of Saving Private Ryan directed by a Stalinist Michael Bay. The film opens by taking the complex web of political and personal betrayals described in the original Burnt by the Sun and reducing it down to someone attempting to drown Stalin in an enormous chocolate cake.
The comparison with Bay is quite deliberate as Burnt by the Sun 2 is not only a Russian attempt at making a Big Dumb Summer Blockbuster, it is a damn sight more entertaining than most of the Big Dumb Summer Blockbusters that have graced our screens in the last couple of years.
Oh… and I wasn’t joking about someone trying to drown Stalin in an enormous chocolate cake: