Boris Godunov

Boris Godunov

Director: Vera Stroyeva Cast: Aleksandr Pirogov, Nikandr Khanaev, G. Nellep

DVD (Mono)

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Russian filmmaker Vera Stroyeva specialized in a cinematic adaptations of famous operas. One of the most successful of these was her 1955 film version of Mussorgsky and Pushkin's Boris Godunov. Stroyeva's adaptation deftly streamlines the story of a Russian czar whose life is placed in jeopardy by a pretender to his throne. A. Pirogov sings the title role, while G. Nellep provides vocal and visual menace as the "False Dmitri." The use of a color process known as Magicolor adds just the right touch of theatrical artificiality to the pomp-and-splendor proceedings. Boris Godunov was released in the US in 1959, at a time when the only Russian most Americans were concerned with was named not Boris but Nikita.

Product Details

Release Date: 03/30/2004
UPC: 0089948425397
Original Release: 1954
Rating: NR
Source: Video Artists Int'l
Region Code: 0
Sound: [monaural]
Time: 1:48:00
Sales rank: 70,782

Cast & Crew

Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Opening Credits [1:11]
2. Cast Credits and Scene - Police Officers/Peoples Chorus [7:11]
3. Shchelkalov's Address [2:12]
4. Coronation Scene [6:27]
5. Pimen's Monologue [4:39]
6. Scene - Grigori/Pimen [7:01]
7. Scene at the Inn [3:11]
8. Varlaam's Drinking Song [5:35]
9. Scene - Police Officer/Varlaam/Grigori [5:39]
10. Scene - Xenia [:58]
11. Scene - Nurse/Boris/Xenia [1:05]
12. Map Scene - Boris/Feodor [1:33]
13. Boris's Monologue: I Have Attained the Highest Power [4:14]
14. Scene - Boris [1:33]
15. Scene - Boris/Shuisky [5:20]
16. Shuisky's Narration [1:59]
17. Clock Scene [3:55]
18. Polish Scene - Marina [2:00]
19. Polish Scene - Marina/Dmitri [7:15]
20. Revolution Scene [3:43]
21. Scene - Simpleton/Boris [5:44]
22. Forest Scene - Varlaam/Misail/Chorus [2:26]
23. The Council of Boyars [5:57]
24. Pimen's Narration [3:17]
25. The Death of Boris [8:03]
26. In Kromy Forest [6:31]

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Boris Godunov 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
catu11us More than 1 year ago
Modest Mussorgsky's "Boris Godunov" is the greatest opera ever written, if we don't count Wagner's Ring. Vera Stroyeva's 1954 film of Boris is a stunning account of this stunning work - or it would be if we could get all of it. Despite Amazon's editorial review's assertion that "this is the most complete Boris Godunov ever recorded on film", we're missing over 40% of the opera here. Boris runs about 3 hours. There are 2 versions of the Stroyeva film on DVD, each running about 1 hour, 49 minutes. You do the math. This is basically the Rimsky-Korsakov botch job, in which Mussorgsky's story is run right off-track by shuffling events and scenes. That would be bad enough, but compensated for by brilliant performances. However, the botch is here followed by the axe. The end of the Prologue (part 1) is chopped off, losing the ending chorus. Act III is butchered terribly, to the point where the viewer might wonder: who's that guy in red robes lurking in the background? In Act V. the Simpleton appears only in Scene 1. Scene 2 (Mussorgsky's original Scene 3), there's no Simpleton and much of the scene - especially Dmitri's appearance - has disappeared. In Scene 3 (Mussorgsky's original Scene 2) the weakness of Rimsky's rewrite is made manifest. In Mussorgsky's mind, Boris was only supporting actor, and the protagonist was (or were) the Russian people. This is why the opera is supposed to end, not with Boris's death, but with the scene in the Kromy forest and the Fool's lament. Amazingly, that is the way it ends after all. After Boris's death - the scene's last few moments are cut - the film goes back to the Kromy forest in what I guess we must call Scene 4. The False Dimitriy appears, the Simpleton bewails the fate of the Russian people, and the opera ends. The split of the Kromy forest scene is disorienting, a sort of compromise between Mussorgsky's intention and Rimsky's meddling, but at least we can more clearly understand the opera's meaning. What saves this truncated performance is the magnificence of the remains. The orchestra plays with true Slavic verve (not well served by the spotty sound reproduction). The sets appear to be actual locations within Russia, within Moscow even, and the Kromy forest parts are filmed outdoors with a realistic burning city in "Scene 4" of Act V. The cameras take full advantage of the fact that the sets are real Russian buildings, with wonderful filming angles. The lighting is imaginative. The influence of Eisenstein hangs wonderfully and heavily over this production. The cast is nothing short of miraculous. Aleksandr Pirogi's Boris is stunning: full of passion and humanity (and guilt). The man reduces the scenery to splinters. The small but pivotal role of Prince Shuisky lives in N. Khanayev. Through much of Russian history, if there's plotting and villainy afoot, there's a Shuisky at the bottom of it. Ivan IV Grozniy fed a couple of them to his dogs, but that wasn't enough apparently. Khanayev fairly radiates nastiness - he steals scenes without even singing. His sly and malevolent glances provide a complete subtext to events. The man is fabulous. Grigoriy Otropiev, the False Dmitriy (unless he actually was Prince Dmitriy), is played by G, Nellep. Nellep has a ringing Slavic tenor - a heldentenor mellowed by more than a soupcon of Alfredo Kraus. He might be regarded as a bit pudgy for the role, but his performance is so compelling that he quickly looks every i