White Sun of the Desert

White Sun of the Desert (1969), directed by Vladimir Motyl and starring Anatoly Kuznetsov, Spartak Mishulin, and Pavel Luspekaev, is the story of a soldier in the Red Army, Fedor Sukhov, and his journey home from the east.  On his way, he is stuck with a “liberated” harem, and has to transport the women to the next town, protecting them from their husband, Abdullah.

This film combines the traditional elements of a classic American Western – gunfights, horses, minimal dialogue, a lone hero – with elements of traditional Soviet film, including the reeducation (or attempt at reeducation) of the harem and a lyrically based soundtrack.

This film seems to be most important for Russian audiences as their best example of the western genre.  Also, it apparently has a wide cultural impact, as I watched it with a Russian who was familiar with the film, and nearly every time there was dialogue, he would say “Oh, here, this is a really famous one-liner.”

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