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A Slave of Love

Nikita Mikhalkov
Raba lyubvi
USSR 1976 / 94’
Nanni Moretti's choice

While tsarist Russia is being torn apart by a civil war between the so-called Whites and the Bolsheviks, several filmmakers in Moscow do their best to continue living and working as if nothing is happening. In fact, they decide to make a sentimental melodrama called A Slave of Love, starring silent-film headliner Olga Voznesenskaya (a character inspired by Vera Kholodnaya), who is a bit of a dolt, but is honest nonetheless and has a good heart. Absorbed in her own emotional life, she cannot understand what is causing the revolutionary turmoil embroiling Russia that will soon destroy the world in which she is treated as a goddess. A left-wing cinematographer opens her eyes to the nightmare of the ongoing civil war. A Slave of Love, director Nikita Mikhalkov's second film, captured audiences with its melodramatic structure, its skillful styling reminiscent of silent cinema (similar to the great works by Yelena Solovey), and its humorous portrait of the film community. It also revealed Mikhalkov's interest in the literature and art of pre-revolutionary Russia, something that would later find expression in his adaptations of the works of Chekhov and Goncharov.

Adam Kruk

Nikita Mikhalkov

Born in Moscow, Nikita Mikhalkov is an artist and politician and one of the leading figures in the world of Russian cinema. He began his acting career in a 1961 film by Ordynsky and then appeared in films by Ryazanov, Jancsó, Zanussi, and by his brother, Andrey Konchalovskiy. He made his directorial debut with the East-produced Western film At Home Among Strangers, a Stranger Among His Own, while turning more to melodrama (Dark Eyes) and blockbusters (The Barber of Siberia) in his later work. One of his biggest successes has been Burnt by the Sun, an Oscar-winning film that tried to come to terms with Stalinism.

Selected filmography

1974 Swój wśród obcych, obcy wśród swoich / Svoy sredi chuzhikh, chuzhoy sredi svoikh / At Home Among Strangers, Stranger at Home

1979 Pięć wieczorów / Pyat vecherov / Five Evenings

1994 Spaleni słońcem / Utomlyonnye solntsem / Burnt by the Sun

1998 Cyrulik syberyjski / Sibirskiy tsiryulnik / The Barber of Siberia

2014 Udar słoneczny / Solnechnyy udar / Sunstroke

Cast & Crew

director Nikita Mikhalkov
screenplay Andrey Konchalovskiy, Fridrikh Gorenshtein
cinematography Pavel Lebeshev
editing Lyudmila Yelyan
music Eduard Artemev
cast Elena Solovey, Rodion Nahapetov, Aleksandr Kalyagin, Konstantin Grigorev, Oleg Basilashvili
producer Tatyana Zhigayeva
production Mosfilm
sales MosFilm
language Russian
colouration colour