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The Last Bogatyr

World War II comes to a humble Russian village on the eve of Anton’s wedding along with the foreboding presence of NKVD officer Vasily. Two years later Anton has left behind his pious wife Katya and is fulfilling his patriotic duty in the Red Army. After seeing first hand the brutalities of the front within his own army, Anton risks all on a daring attempt to return to his home behind enemy lines.

Film notes

Director's Statement:
The Last Bogatyr is a surreal exploration of Russian national consciousness. The word “bogatyr” refers to a knight or epic hero from Russian folklore. I wanted to reference traditional lore in a more modern setting. Instead of adapting any one tale, we sought to depict a story that would be true to its own time. The central characters Anton, Katya and Vasily represent the conflicting worldviews that are brought to front by World War II.

Anton is my allegory for the conflicted dualism of the Russian nation in the twentieth century. The young villager is enlisted in the Red Army and yet chooses to wed a devout member of the Russian Orthodox. Not long after the transition to communism, Russians like Anton were caught between their traditional roots and the policies of the new state.
Anton’s bride Katya is the idealized form of the traditional church. It is her pious image that stays with Anton all through the film, and is ultimately part of his undoing. Their bond is distanced but never broken, as the forbidden cross that dangles from Anton’s neck suggests. In the film’s final montage that connection is bridged visually.

Personifying the Stalinist ideology is Anton’s childhood friend, Vasily now an officer in the NKVD. His arrival casts a conflicting shadow over Anton’s wedding. Already at the film’s opening there is a reserve growing between these men that will set them on their separate paths as the war develops. Vasily sees Anton as a friend and accepts his lingering religious beliefs. As a "comrade" and a soldier however, Vasily cannot condone his desertion.

To comment on ideological propaganda and the false totalism of cinema in helping create national identity, I chose the form and look of the “epic” historical film. The very romantic quality of that genre questions the traditional conventions of that style filmmaking and its aesthetization of politics and self-destruction.

Sarah R. Lotfi, White Cloud Films LLC

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Copyright © 2009 White Cloud Films LLC

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Information on this profile is provided by the film owners and/or compiled from available sources | Profile updated 5 Jun 2011