Close Up

4 January 2018: The Bodyguard


The Bodyguard
Ali Khamraev
1979 | 90 min | Colour | 35mm
Introduced by Herb Shellenberger

The Bodyguard portrays the Basmachi rebellion, which saw the Muslims of Central Asia rise up against the Red Army in the years following the Russian Revolution of October 1917. With lead actors on loan from Tarkovsky (Aleksandr Kaydanovskiy from Stalker and Anatoliy Solonitsyn from Andrei Rublev), Khamraev made a return to the “Red Western” action films which gave him popular success a decade prior. Soviet takes on the American Old West, “Red Westerns” transposed gun-slinging, allegorical action-dramas to the Central Asian landscape. Buoyed by the quasi-Krautrock score of composer Eduard Artemyev (Stalker, Solaris), The Bodyguard follows its characters through the arid, rocky steppes and snow-capped mountains of Tajikstan, where grizzled mountain trapper Mirzo (Kaydanovskiy) is escorting captured Basmachi leader Sultan Nazar (Solonitsyn) to a faraway province. On this epic journey, they are trailed steps behind by Fattobeck, the harsh new leader of the Basmachis who is aiming to recover the Sultan and crush the Red Army contingent at any cost.

Part of our programme on Ali Khamraev