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At Home Among Strangers, a Stranger at Home

Nikita Mikhalkov
Svoy sredi chuzih, chuzoi sredi svoih
USSR 1974 / 97’
USSR: Golden Age

This film, the directorial debut of iconic Russian actor Nikita Mikhalkov, includes references to Sergio Leone’s Spaghetti Westerns and the director’s cameo as a typical bandit in a long coat and big hat.

The film arguably represents the most successful marriage of the traditional Soviet genre of the Red Western with its equally traditional American prototype. Mikhalkov took the most basic conventions of the Western and Red Western, then combined and contrasted them. In At Home Among Strangers, the ‘iron’ communists of the 1920s are remarkably similar to the lonesome heroes of classic Westerns. There are horseback chase sequences, train robberies, shoot-outs, issues of greed or violence, brooding silences and moments of comic relief. While it is true that the money is dutifully dispatched to Moscow (to help with famine relief), and all the main characters are staunch Communist Party members, there is talk here of Marx and God, themes very daring at the time. A genre exercise transforms into a bold parable and a striking credo that friendship trumps political alliances, personal needs and even the needs of the state.

Natalia Riabchikova / Rotterdam IFF

Nikita Mikhalkov

Born in 1945, in Russia. He is the great grandson of the painter Vassily Surikov, grandson of the painter Pyotr Konchalovsky, and son of writer/poet Sergei Mikalhov and writer/translator Natalie Konchalovskaya; he is also the half-brother of director Andrei Mikhalkov-Konchalovsky (The First Teacher, A Nest of Gentry, Uncle Vanya, Love Romance). Nikita trained at the Shchukin drama school and has appeared in the films I Stroll in Moscow (1963), Red Tent (1969), A Nest of Gentry (1969), Station Chief (1972), among many others. He subsequently studied at the State Film Institute with e.g. Mikhail Romm. After completing his graduate thesis with the short film A Calm Day at the End of the War (1970), he made his directing debut with At Home among Strangers (1974).

Selected filmography

1970 Spokojny dzień pod koniec wojny / Spokoynyy den v kontse voyny / A Quiet Day at the End of the War (short)

1974 Swój wśród obcych, obcy wśród swoich / Svoy sredi chuzih, chuzoi sredi svoih / At Home Among Strangers, a Stranger at Home

1976 Niewolnica miłości / Raba lyubvi / A Slave of Love

1977 Niedokończony utwór na pianolę / Neokonchennaya pyesa dlya mekhanicheskogo pianino / An Unfinished Piece for Mechanical Piano

1979 Kilka dni z życia Obłomowa / Neskolko dney iż zhizni I.I. Oblomov / Oblomov

1991 Urga / Close to Eden

1994 Spaleni słońcem / Utomlyonnye solntsem / Burnt by the Sun

2010 Spaleni słońcem 2 / Utomlyonnye solntsem 2 / Burnt by the Sun 2

Cast & Crew

director Nikita Mikhalkov
screenplay Nikita Mikhalkov, Eduard Volodarvski
cinematography Pavel Lebeshev
editing Lyudmila Yelyan
music Eduard Artemiev
cast Yuri Bogatyryov, Sergei Shakurov, Anatoly Solonitsyn, Nikita Mikhalkov
production Mosfilm
sales Ruscico – Russian Cinema Council
source of print Filmoteka Narodowa
language Russian
colouration colour & b&w