April 01, 1999

30 Years Under the White Sun



In 1968, just a few months after Soviet troops invaded Czechoslovakia to quell the Prague Spring, another crisis was brewing in the Kremlin. At the Kremlin dacha, to be more exact ...

General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev was having a party with his acolytes. The appointed hour came to screen the Western movie traditional at such parties. But somehow the featured film had gone missing. It was Sunday, nobody was working. The mortified representative of Goskino (State Committee for Cinema) recalled that there was a “Russian Western” sitting on the censor’s shelf. God Save the Goskino! After all, The Tsar is Permitted Everything. This weekend, instead of an American Western, Brezhnev previewed an uncut version of White Sun of the Desert.

In the middle of the night after the screening, the Goskino minister was woken by a phone call from Brezhnev. “You’re making good movies out there,” Leonid Ilyich told him. “You really know how to please me.”


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