Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Taras Bulba

Vladimir Bortko's adaptation of Gogol's  controversial novel (now available on DVD) created a big stir when it was released last year.  Bortko has built a fine reputation as one of Russia's premier directors, having brought Bulgakov's Heart of a Dog and Master and Margarita to the screen.  He also did a fine adaptation of Dostoevsky's The Idiot.  This led persons to wonder why such a blatantly pro-Russian version of this novel, which shows the Wild Cossack plowing through fields of Polish noblemen, slicing them down to size.

The main thrust of this movie, which Ellen Barry notes in her review, appears to be an attempt to show that there is no separate Ukraine, bringing back the Pan-Slavism that has long dominated Russian thought.  Of course the odd thing is relying on Gogol for any historical picture, given his sardonic view of early 19th century Russia, not to mention the dementia he eventually developed.  However, being a Ukrainian, with Polish ancestry, who identified himself as Russian, seems to be enough to ground these long running sentiments in Taras Bulba.

Anyway, the movie is worth watching for its visual effects alone.  One of the most lavish Russian movies ever made.  You just have to take Bortko's political motivations with a grain of salt.

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