Synopsis by Clarke Fountain
This is a highly adapted cinematic rendition of the great Russian opera Boris Godunov (1874), originally composed by Modest Mussorgsky (and later modified by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Dmitri Shostakovich and others). The opera is based on a play by the great Russian dramatist Alexander Pushkin. It tells a story of tragic proportions about a 16th century Czar of Russia. With so many culture heroes involved in one monolithic musical masterpiece (it is quite long), it is little wonder that any attempt to adapt it to the screen or change the focus of the original is likely to provoke howls of outrage from devotees of the original opera. That is precisely what happened with this well-intentioned international production. In addition to cutting over an hour out of the original production, it spends a great deal of time on the bedroom exploits of the various characters in the story. There is also some anachronistic material included that is intended to heighten the political commentary that is already present in the original opera. In the story, which is too long and involved to do more than summarize here, the tumultuous reign of the capable but ruthless Russian Czar Boris Godunov is narrated from the time he accepts the crown to his death. The Czar's brief reign (1598-1605) is characterized by intrigues, plots, betrayals, attempted coups, murders, and nearly every kind of calamity that can befall a leader. His only comfort is that he can bequeath his unruly empire to his son on his deathbed.
betrayal, Czar, murder, political-intrigue, political-leader, political-power