The film is based on the musical recording of the famous opera by Modest Mussorgsky about the tragic events surrounding the ruling of the Russian tsar Boris in the early 17th century. The ...
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The film is based on the musical recording of the famous opera by Modest Mussorgsky about the tragic events surrounding the ruling of the Russian tsar Boris in the early 17th century. The recording was actually made two years before the filming with the participation of the Washington Symphony Orchestra (conducted by Mstislav Rostropovich) and several opera stars (the part of Marina is sung by Galina Vishnevskaya). Zulawski made the film just as we would be watching the theatrical performance. Then we are going through the sets and, finally, we notice the film crew. The director deliberately filled the picture with a plenty of anachronisms making the implications on the Soviet history and the other dictatorships of the 20th century.Written by
Yuri German <email@example.com>
The character of "Xenia" is Tsar Boris' daughter in the Opera. The director wanted to spice up Boris' character and changed Xenia into one of his servants who becomes his mistress, but when wealth and luxury send her mad, she betrays him, precipitating his downfall. The producers, and especially the conductor, were so offended when they came on the set to witness Xenia depicted as a half-crazed woman living in luxury, they insisted the role be cut-down. However, since most of the role had been shot with the lead, they couldn't cut it out entirely, so the audience can catch glimpses of a young woman, looking different in every scene, hanging around Boris for no particular reason. It was not enough to tone the controversy down: the purists felt that the director meant to portray Boris as incestuous, and the producers sided with them against the director in the press, ultimately disowned the film and kept its release to a strict minimum. Kaline Carr as Xenia is generally not mentioned in the credits, although she was widely mentioned in the press as such and is on one of the posters for the film with Ruggero Raimondi (Boris). See more »
I am not an opera buff, and also not a big fan of opera movies, but this film managed to leave my jaw on the floor through most of the running time without me knowing exactly why. Simply put, this is business as usual for fans of Andrzej Zulawski, and is made in his signature in your face fashion. In fact this will probably aggravate a lot of opera purists because it openly breaks all the rules of opera movies, and includes copious nudity, violence, and some crazy performances. One scene has a character singing an aria whilst strolling through the woods, suddenly he walks into a tree, but the singing continues. There are two sex scenes that involve singing throughout. Every so often we catch clear sight of the film crew shooting the action. Visually it slightly resembles Eisenstein's Ivan the Terrible part 2 (which also involves grotesquely stylised Boyars), but it also shares quite a few similarities with the director's own 'On the Silver Globe', which also has large set pieces involving crowds of outlandishly costumed people undulating in mass hysteria. This would actually make a great double bill with the anthology film 'Aria', that also marries passionate and intense visuals to soaring and emotional opera music. I really don't understand why this has been out of distribution for so long, but Zulawski's films are so in your face, so far removed from 'normal' filmmaking, that pairing this sensibility with a famous and well loved opera is not going to tick many mainstream boxes. If you like intense, extreme cinema, then check this out.
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