The Rider Named Death

on March 18, 2005 by Tim Cogshell
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"The Rider Named Death" is an adaptation of the1909 novel "The Pale Horse," which was written by Boris Savinkov, an actual historical figure. Savinkov is effectively the protagonist of the film, though his name is different: He was the leader of the Socialist-Revolutionary Party that the character George (Andrei Panin) heads in the movie. The Socialist Revolutionaries were moderates compared to the Bolsheviks, who would eventually take power under Lenin, but they did believe in armed struggle, and Savinkov was an avowed terrorist during Czarist Russia at the turn of the last century. He was involved in a number of historical assassinations, including the killing of several governors that ultimately came to be known as the Russian Revolution of 1905, preceding the Bolshevik Revolution by a decade or so.

"The Rider Named Death" is a politicized telling of these events, with Savinkov/George at the center of a struggle to set free the proletariat through the use of terror (mostly suicide bombings) against the aristocracy. If it all sounds familiar, that's because nothing ever really changes, which is another political point the movie attempts to make through its conflicted characters -- the naive student Vanya (Artyem Semakin), the miserable worker Fyodor (Rostislav Bershauer), the Jewish bomb maker Erna (Ksenis Rappoport) -- and their disparate reasons for doing the things they do. It's all very angsty, but relevant in the current zeitgeist of world events. Starring Andrei Panin, Rostislav Bershauer, Ksenis Rappoport and Artyem Semakin. Directed and produced by Karen Shakhnazarov. Written by Aleksandr Borodyansky and Karen Shakhnazarov. A Kino release. Drama. Russian- and French-language; subtitled. Unrated. Running time: 106 min

Tags: Andrei Panin, Rostislav Bershauer, Ksenis Rappoport, Artyem Semakin, Directed and produced by Karen Shakhnazarov, Written by Aleksandr Borodyansky, Karen Shakhnazarov, A Kino release, Drama, Russian Revolution, governors, politicized, confliced, student
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