Burnt by the Sun

If you watched Russian film-maker Nikita Mikhalkov come to the stage with his enchanting actress daughter, Nadia, 6, to accept the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, you are probably intrigued about the film that won the prize and teams father and daughter as co-stars. Follow that instinct. Burnt by the Sunis staggeringly good, shot through with humor, beauty and terror. The film evokes the Stalinist Russia of the 1930s with Mikhalkov playing Serguei Kotov, a military hero who is relishing life in the country with his young wife, Maroussia (Ingeborga Dapkounaite), and their daughter, Nadia. With the entrance of Dimitri (Oleg Menchikov), the wife's former lover and currently a member of the secret police, the deep shadow of betrayal and the coming purge falls on the Kotov family and, by extension, all of Russia.

Mikhalkov (A Slave of Love, Dark Eyes) a visionary talent, acts with uncommon power and wit. His scenes with his daughter have a crushing poignancy. At the Oscars, he called Nadia "my actress" and praised her for giving him no trouble. Her gift is an indelibly vibrant performance in a haunting film that tears at the heart.

From The Archives Issue 708: May 18, 1995