Burned by the Sun (Утомлённые сольнцем) is a joint Russian and French Russian-language film released in 1994. The title of the film refers to a 1937 song, “The Burned Sun” (“Утомлённое сольнце”), which is featured several times in the film. The film was influenced by the real-life Nikolai Skoblin, a White Army officer who later worked for the NKVD.
The film takes place during a single day in 1936 Russia, during Stalin’s repressions. The main character is Sergey Kotov (Nikita Mikhailov, who also directed the film), a Red Army officer who truly believes in communism and is devoted to Stalin. His life changes when Mitya, his cousin’s former fiancé, reappears in his life: Mitya was a member of the prerevolutionary anticommunist movement but now works for the NKVD (at the time, the Soviet secret police) and has a plot to take down Kotov as revenge for a personal slight in the past. The film, in keeping with the reality of the era, does not end happily.
The film won the Academy Award for the best foreign-language film and the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival. It was also awarded the State Prize of the Russian Federation. Critics and audiences alike awarded it high marks. The film has a two-part sequel, Burned by the Sun 2: Exodus and Citadel (Утомлённые сольнцем 2: Предстояние and Цитадель), both parts of which wer almost universally panned.
Director: Nikita Mikhailov
Stars: Oleg Men’shikov, Nikita Mikhailov, Ingeborga Dapkūnaitė, Nadezhda Mikhalkova, Nina Arkhipova
Production company: Studio TriTe, Camera One (France)
Box office take: $2.4 million