Boris Godounov (1989)
(A.K.A:
Boris Godunov)                                                             

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Directed By:
Andrzej Zulawski    

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Writing Credits:
Modest Mussorgsky   (
Libretto)
Andrzej Zulawski

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Non-Original Music By:
Modest Mussorgsky   (
From Opera "Boris Godunov")  

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Cinematography By:
Andrzej Jaroszewicz    
Pierre-Laurent Chénieux    

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Main Cast:
Ruggero Raimondi
Kenneth Riegel
Pavel Slaby
Delphine Forest

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Genre:
Musical / Drama / Film-Opera / Film-Opera / Period Film / Tragedy

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Plot Summary:

This is a highly adapted cinematic rendition of the great Russian opera Boris Godunov
(1874), originally composed by Modest Mussorgsky (and later modified by Nikolai
Rimsky-Korsakov, Dmitri Shostakovich and others). The opera is based on a play by the
great Russian dramatist Alexander Pushkin. It tells a story of tragic proportions about a
16th century Czar of Russia. With so many culture heroes involved in one monolithic
musical masterpiece (it is quite long), it is little wonder that any attempt to adapt it to the
screen or change the focus of the original is likely to provoke howls of outrage from
devotees of the original opera. That is precisely what happened with this well-intentioned
international production. In addition to cutting over an hour out of the original production,
it spends a great deal of time on the bedroom exploits of the various characters in the
story. There is also some anachronistic material included that is intended to heighten the
political commentary that is already present in the original opera. In the story, which is too
long and involved to do more than summarize here, the tumultuous reign of the capable but
ruthless Russian Czar Boris Godunov is narrated from the time he accepts the crown to his
death. The Czar's brief reign (1598-1605) is characterized by intrigues, plots, betrayals,
attempted coups, murders, and nearly every kind of calamity that can befall a leader. His
only comfort is that he can bequeath his unruly empire to his son on his deathbed.


Summary Written By: Clarke Fountain                                        Source: www.allmovie.com

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Technical Specifications:

Film Negative Format (mm/video inches)
: 35 mm
Printed Film Format
: 35 mm
Aspect Ratio
: ?
Runtime
: 117 min
Country
: France / Spain / Yugoslavia
Language
: Russian
Color
: Color (Fujicolor)

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Trivia:

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).


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Production Companies:
Avala Film (co-production)
Blue Dahlia Productions (co-production)
Erato Films
Gemka Productions
Ibero Americanal Avala
Iberoamericana de Televisión S.A. (co-production)
La Sept Cinéma
La Sept (co-production)
SGGC (co-production)

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Other Companies:
Erato Records  (Soundtrack Album)

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Printed Media Reviews:
Decourcelle, Thierry. In: Première (France). (MG), January 1990, Pg. 9
Rebichon, Michel. In: Studio (France). (MG), December 1989, Pg. 17

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