Penza community met Nikita Mikhalkov’s “Sunstroke” with mixed reactions
Penza, 6 November 2014. PenzaNews. Representatives of Penza region social and political circles gave mixed reviews for the feature film “Sunstroke” by the famous Russian filmmaker Nikita Mikhalkov. The film was first shown on TV via “Russia 1” channel on National Unity Day, November 4.
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According to the director of the Penza Lermontov regional library, co-chairman of the regional All-Russia People’s Front (APF) department Marina Osipova, the film aims to remind the Russians of the importance to know and remember their own history.
“It is a wonderful motion picture that tells a story of the downfall of the million-strong genetic pool of Russia. We will be doomed to repeat it if we keep forgetting who we are and where we come from. The Russian officers were wonderful young people: educated, gentlemanly, civilized – and see what happened when complete laymen, rough and morally bankrupt, came to power. Mikhalkov shot several movies about the generation that forgot its history, and I think ‘Sunstroke’ continues them. Many are reluctant to accept the events of 1905 and 1917, but one must know about them. Perhaps several generations should pass before the Russians will shed this reluctance to know,” Marina Osipova commented on the film to PenzaNews agency.
According to the principal of Continuing Education Institute of the Penza State University, Doctor of Historical Sciences, professor Gennady Belorybkin, “Sunstroke” is an unusual and conceptual film.
“Usually, a film is just a movie to watch, to be happy or sad about, but this one requires thinking. Therefore, being an intellectual, I like it very much, but I doubt the masses will be able to fully grasp everything it offers,” he remarked.
Gennady Belorybkin added that “the history always repeats, but never teaches anybody.”
“So if such events begin right now, the film will hardly teach anybody anything. And this may happen, since nobody could tell the events in Ukraine may repeat. Beyond that, we have been toying with the country’s technical development for the last 15 years, while thought of liberal arts as something undeserving. But life shows that a man’s soul, his mind and outlook may break through anything material, which is what we see in Ukraine. If we don’t begin working with souls and minds, if we refrain from investing into it, anything may happen,” said the principal of Continuing Education Institute.
Meanwhile, Victor Kondrashkin, the deputy of the Legislative Assembly of the Penza region and History and Local Lore dean of the Penza State University, said he had no personal interest in this film or any previous works by Nikita Mikhalkov.
He added that he did not watch the film due to his personal aversion to the filmmaker’s personality.
“I do not want to watch the film made by a man who is nostalgic about the Tsarist Russia and its generals, white and noble. I’d never watch it as a matter of principle, even though it’s based on the book by Bunin. All the recent films made by Mikhalkov only make me puzzled. What could he have said in this one? I don’t know: maybe he told how evil were the Bolsheviks, how good were the officers, how beautiful were the ladies. As a historian, I always follow the balanced approach and the principles of historical truth. If there is a pre-given position, there is nothing to speak of. And then, I have no respect for the people who may kick a journalist held by bodyguards in the face. There was such an event, if you may recall,” explained the historian.
Ruslan Barmakov, a Penza businessman and Russian nationalist, spoke from a similar point of view.
He also said his negative attitude towards Nikita Mikhalkov was influenced by a 1999 altercation when the filmmaker kicked a man in the face.
“He is a patriot right now, of course, that Mikhalkov, but to me, he is not a gentleman, and I will not watch any films of his. He may be a genius filmmaker, but as a man, he is nobody to me. This is why I have not watched the film, but still criticize it, as they were saying in the Soviet times,” Ruslan Barmakov said.
At the same time, Vladimir Simagin, deputy of the State Duma of Russia from the Penza region, the Communist Party faction, said he intended to watch “Sunstroke” to form an opinion, but turned it off after watching it for 15 minutes.
“I’m not impressed. There is something biased in the film. It shows gentlemanly officers and evil Bolsheviks. I think it’s wrong. In fact, I don’t like watching films – it’s not my cup of tea. Began watching it out of curiosity, but stopped,” the Communist party member said.
The head of Penza branch “Molodaya Gvardiya” Dmitry Semin said he did not watch the film until the end, either, and therefore was unable to give it a definitive review.
However, he added that the events shown in the motion picture are related to the state of affairs in modern Russia.
“Some people say that different ages have different people. In reality, ages change, culture changes with it, some social points of view, politics and so on and so forth, but people remain the same. There are similarities between the current generation and those times, but the quirk is that many values, such as patriotism, lost their meaning they had before. People became more shut in themselves, do a lot for themselves and not for the society and the state. Earlier, they were more open-hearted, as the film shows,” Dmitry Semin expressed his opinion.
According to him, even though the history tends to repeat itself, the are no reasons for modern Russia to relive the events that “Sunstroke” depicts.
“The changes that took place in Russia last year have deeply united the people. If there was negativity after the 2011 elections, and some people even hated their country, now it has changed for many people, influenced by the Olympics and the return of Crimea. All the victories by our great country have a major influence on people’s opinion about the state, the authorities and the president. Thus I hope such bloodshed will not repeat itself in Russia,” the “Molodaya Gvardiya” Penza branch head concluded.
Among those who were unable to watch the film on November 4, and thus could not state their opinion in an interview to PenzaNews agency, were Evgeny Shilov, the head of culture and the archive of the region; Kirill Zastrozhniy, deputy chief of culture and archive of the Penza region; Alexei Kostin, minister of investment development and business of the Penza region; Ruslan Gulyaev, the deputy minister of education of the Penza region; Vladimir Zimenkov head of the State Local History museum; Valery Sazonov director of the Penza Savitsky art gallery; Sergei Kazakov, social activist, Distinguised Artist of Russia, and artistic director of the Penza Lunacharsky Drama Theater, Aide to the President of Russia; Georgy Kamnev, member of the Legislative Assembly of the Penza region, the first secretary of the regional committee of the Communist Party; Pavel Kulikov, deputy coordinator of Penza regional branch of Liberal Democratic Party; Oleg Sharipkov, executive director of the fund “Citizen Union”; Mikhail Krasnov, co-chairman of the regional headquarters of the People’s Front for Russia and the manager of the cardiovascular center of the regional Burdenko hospital; Gleb Sintsov, leader of the regional Lawyers’ Association branch; and Igor Pantyushov chairman of the regional branch of the Russian Geographical Society.
The history drama film “Sunstroke” is based on two creations of Ivan Bunin: a story “Sunstroke” and his diary of 1918-1920, titled “Cursed days.”
The main idea of the movie is its slogan: “How did it all happen?”
The plot focuses on the story of love between a young lieutenant and a married lady, while the country suffers a tragedy of the October Revolution and the fall of the Russian Empire.
The film was first presented to the public in Belgrad on October 3, 2014.
According to the filmmaker Nikita Mikhalkov, he decided to premiere the movie in Serbia because many Russians migrated there during the years depicted in the film.
“Sunstroke” was first shown in Russia on October 4 and released to movie theaters on October 9.
On National Unity Day, November 4, the film was shown on TV via the federal channel “Russia 1” before it left the cinemas.
As Nikita Mikhalkov said, he wanted as many people as possible to see the movie, especially those who live in towns and villages with no film theaters.