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The Seventh Bullet

Ali Khamraev
Sedmaya pulya
USSR 1972 / 84’
USSR: Central Asian Films

One of the many Red Westerns directly inspired by the hugely popular American classic The Magnificent Seven (1960).

Uzbekistan in the 1920s: Upon his return to a settlement, Bolshevik commander Maksumov finds it devastated and depopulated. His nemesis has defeated Red Army troops stationed there and enticed many to switch sides. Maksumov goes to the lion’s den alone to confront his enemy.

As with many other Red Westerns, The Seventh Bullet uses Central Asia's exotic natural environment to impressive visual effect. The chase and fight scenes are professionally staged and, interestingly, the film depicts the habits and rituals of the native population with relative authenticity and respect.

Ali Khamraev’s The Seventh Bullet belongs to a peculiar sub-genre, sometimes referred to as the ‘Eastern’, a Western-style action film with an explicit pro-communist propaganda message, usually set during the 1920s civil war. The Eastern typically features a Bolshevik superman as its central character, a man just as apt at delivering ideological arguments as in handling guns and martial arts.

Peter Rollberg / Rotterdam IFF

Ali Khamraev

Born in 1937, in Uzbekistan. A prominent director of the Soviet thaw generation, Khamraev’s films resonate with the artistic adventurousness and intellectual curiosity of his 1960s contemporaries, Tarkovsky and Paradzhanov. After graduating from VGIK in 1961, he began a prolific career highlighted by several internationally renowned films, including White Cranes, Extraordinary Commissar, and The Seventh Bullet – one of the most widely seen Central Asian films of all time. Beyond his native Uzbekistan, Khamraev also directed films in Tajikistan, Russia, and Afghanistan, and his belated return to directing, Bo Ba Bu, an Italian co-production featuring an eclectic cast of Central Asian characters. It depicts the former Soviet republics at the dusk of the 20th century.

Selected filmography

1961 Malenkie istorii o detyakh, kotorye… / Short Stories about Children, That… (co-dir.)

1966 Belyye, belyye aisty / White Cranes

1970 W misji specjalnej / Chrezvychainyj komissar / Extraordinary Commissar

1971 Bez strakha / Fearless

1972 Siódma kula / Sedmaya pulya / The Seventh Bullet 

1979 Telokhranitel / The Bodyguard

1983 Zharkoye Leto v Kabule / A Hot Summer in Kabul

1987 Sad zhelaniy / Desire’s Garden

1998 Bo Ba Bu

Cast & Crew

director Ali Khamraev
screenplay Fridrikh Gorenstein, Andrey Konchalovsky
cinematography Aleksandr Pann
editing V. Makarova
music Rumil Vildanov
cast Dilorom Kambarova, Suimenkul Chokmorov, Bolot Bejshenaliyev
production Uzbekfilm
sales Uzbekfilm
source of print Ali Khamraev
language Russian
colouration colour