The film is based on the musical recording of the famous opera by Modest Mussorgsky about the tragic events surrounding the ruling of the Russian tsar Boris in the early 17th century. The recording was actually made two years before the filming with the participation of the Washington Symphony Orchestra (conducted by Mstislav Rostropovich) and several opera stars (the part of Marina is sung by Galina Vishnevskaya). Zulawski made the film just as we would be watching the theatrical performance. Then we are going through the sets and, finally, we notice the film crew. The director deliberately filled the picture with a plenty of anachronisms making the implications on the Soviet history and the other dictatorships of the 20th century.
Modest Mussorgsky's opera in prologue and four acts is performed by the Kirov Opera with performances from Olga Borodina, Alexei Steblianko and Sergei Leiferkust. Boris Godunov has obtained the throne of Russia by murdering the rightful heir Dmitry. An old monk, Pimen, witnessed this, and convinces his apprentice Grigory to avenge Dmitry's death. In the following years Grigory poses as Dmitry, raising an army against Boris, who is now convinced that he is being punished for the murder.
Boris Godunov is the story not only of a troubled leader but of an entire nation, and its history is as eventful as that of Mother Russia herself. In this new production, the legendary director Andrei Konchalovsky presents a personal vision of the opera that takes Mussorgsky’s bare and monumental first version as its basis, while adding the final scene from the composer’s revision, in which not only the Tsar but the people themselves reveal their fatal flaws. Orlin Anastassov stars in the title role, conducted by Gianandrea Noseda.
Boris Ivanovich Tishchenko was a Russian and Soviet composer and pianist. His output includes eight symphonies, two violin concertos, two cello concertos, a piano concerto, six string quartets, two cello sonatas, ten piano sonatas, a requiem, chamber and vocal works, the opera The Stolen Sun, the operetta A Cockroach, three ballets The Twelve, Fly-bee and Yaroslavna (The Eclipse), and incidental music for theatre and film…..
A sequence of beautiful wintry pictures from Moscow – the Moscow River, the Kremlin etc – bring us to the Bolshoi Theatre, a quick interior and then the applause for conductor Alexander Lazarev and we are in the pit for the prelude. After that the opera unfolds scene by scene in a lavish production, colourful, realistic, traditional, with magnificent stage-sets and a throng of choristers and extras filling the enormous stage of the Bolshoi, reminding us that the main protagonist in this opera is the Russian people… – Göran Forsling, MusicWeb International