The White Sun of the Desert - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The White Sun of the Desert Reviews

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November 21, 2015
A soviet classic. Probably the only real soviet action movie.
August 15, 2015
Apparently this film is super popular in Russia and cosmonauts watch it before they blast off. Anatoliy Kuznetsov is wandering home from war near the Caspian Sea and runs into a series of adventures that keep him from his beloved Katerina Matveyevna to whom he writes yearning voiceover narration (picturing her in a more temperate clime than the desert before him). Kuznetsov's character Sukhov is more Douglas Fairbanks than Randolph Scott but he finds himself in the Western tradition, as a lone gun (albeit with a couple of sidekicks of unknown loyalty) facing a gang of fierce bandits. In this variation, Sukhov is also sheltering the lead bandit Abdullah's nine wives (in full burkas) after they have been freed and he is at pains to explain to them that they can now have one husband each. The actual battles here are more whimsical than warlike and the film as a whole is sort of gently rollicking; however, this led me to drift off (despite its brief 80 minutes). Russians may get more out of this.
½ November 3, 2013
Amusing, cultish film that real Russians nostalgically refer to as "Sovietski Propaganda."
July 24, 2013
So many of my family's inside jokes are based on this film.
December 12, 2012
What most people doesn't know is that in the Soviet Union and the east-block countries, western films was also popular. Not the western set in the american wild west, but a sub-genre known as "Red western" or "Revolutionary western", or "Osterns" to be more specific. This genre mostly takes place on the Central Asian steppes, during the Russian civil war, between red and white forces, where the focus is mainly set on the red ones. And therefor "Red Westerns". It has many of the same elements as an american western. Like: good vs. evil, lawlessness, and a lot of desert.

One of the most famous of them all is Vladimir Motyl's "The White Sun of the Desert", in which we follow the red army soldier, Sukhov, who's after years of fighting finally can go home to his wife, Katerina. But while he wanders through the deserts of Turkmenistan, he's being stopped by a red army platoon who's chasing after the war lord, Abdullah, who works for the white army. But the reds have manage to liberate his twelve wives. But they can't bring them along, so they ask Sukhov to escort the twelve wives to the nearest village, where they can hide. But Abdullah has men everywhere.

Although White Sun of the Desert isn't so well known internationally, it's actually one of the most popular Russian films of all time. It was a successful hit, that nobody expected. It has it's own cult status. Some of the quotes have even written itself into the Russian vocabulary, like "The East is a delicate matter" or "His grenades are of a wrong caliber". In other words, White Sun of the Desert is like an eastern "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly". It's also become a tradition for every cosmonaut to watch this film before every space launches, to bring good luck.

White Sun of the Desert is a wonderful combination of comedy, action and drama, with a lot of good action scenes, where Sukhov is often up against three men or more, and seems to always get out of that knot, easily. There's even some comic relief with Abdullah's twelve wives, who's wears burqas, and whom Sukhov constantly have to remind are free from the burdens of polygamy. Some comic relief does also the former czar officer Vereschagin give us, with his drinking and singing, longing back to the czarist era. But in this case I have to agree with the critics, that this film is in fact just another action, adventure escapist film, and it's suppose to be. But for me it isn't outstanding, or it's me who thought it was gonna be another Tarkovsky flick. But it's entertaining enough. Thumbs up.
December 14, 2011
This movie is from Soviet-era Russia, and is an "Eastern", that is, a Western set in Central Asia. It is about a Soviet soldier who is dragged in some improbable sidequest on his journey back home after the civil war. Overall, it doesn't have any oustanding feature, but the storyline is unusual (by Western standards, that is) and simple and touching by it's happy-go-lucky undertones.
March 14, 2011
Fantastic movie - a 'must see' movie if you want to understand Russians more and just a damned good watch even if you don't!
Harlequin68
Super Reviewer
February 6, 2011
[font=Century Gothic]"White Sun of the Desert" starts around 1920 in Central Asia, with Sukhov(Anatoli Kuznetsov), dreaming of returning to his darling Katerina(Galina Luchai), chancing across Said(Spartak Mishulin), buried up to his head in the sand, and promptly digs him out. Said then accompanies him to where he meets up with some Soviet troops who have just been in a battle with the feared bandit Abdullah(Kakhi Kavsadze) who fled before he could he could kill his harem. The troops are off in pursuit, leaving the wives in Sukhov's charge along with young Petrukha(Nikolai Godovikov).[/font]

[font=Century Gothic]Have you ever noticed how some people have all the luck?[/font]

[font=Century Gothic]"White Sun of the Desert" is a rousing, fun, and old fashioned adventure film that never takes itself too seriously. There are a couple of questions concerning the Soviet intent to civilize but Said does seem like a decent sort of chap, so I'll look the other way. And I can definitely accept any anti-harem position that coincides with women being liberated.[/font]
February 6, 2011
My favourite movie. I've watched it dozens of times (I really watch it several times a year).
September 24, 2010
It's a shame "Osterns" never caught on outside of the Union, even after its collapse.
½ February 9, 2010
A Russian version of an American blockbuster, this "eastern" has got some pretty funny moments, but, alas, is nothing too special despite the claims of the millions of Russians who grew up on it.
September 26, 2009
Somewhat Pschyedelic russian western-like drama about a soldier struggelling through the sand on his way back to green sweet Russia.
Without really wanting it he gets a harem on his hands that he has to protect from its former owner who wants to kill them all.
We also meet a drunkard customs man who forgot about customs, traded his uniform against a couple of peacocks and spending his days drinking and singing sad songs
a neat film
August 27, 2009
Nice landscapes and direction for this Soviet western. A little bit light on the script though.
½ February 13, 2009
A russian soldier frees some arabs for labour. A fun communistic western from the Soviet Union.
January 3, 2009
Ostern, onderdeel van het kosmonautenritueel.
October 22, 2008
noted as one of the best movies ever from Russia. Not sure if that is the case but a good flix, with enjoyable characters, with a serious undertone. worth watching if you want to see something else than the typical us westerns... thank you, Svetlana for sharing this with me!
½ September 16, 2008
Communism may have found its greatest film hero in Comrade Sukhov, and the film itself is a lovable swashbuckler that outdoes more than a few American westerns.
½ May 12, 2008
The Soviet answer to Lawrence of Arabia.
April 14, 2008
This is a fantastic adventure comedy film. Cult classic in Russia and probably one of my favourite Russian films.
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