Mikhalkov, Nikita Sergeyevich

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(b. 1945), film director, actor.

Nikita Mikhalkov is the best-known Russian director of the late-Soviet and post-Soviet period. Mikhalkov was born in Moscow to a family of accomplished painters, writers, and arts administrators. His father was chief of the Soviet Writers' Union, and his brother, Andrei Mikhalkov-Konchalovsky, is also a successful director. Mikhalkov first came to national and international attention with his film Slave of Love (1976), which depicts the last days of prerevolutionary popular filmmaking. He made several more films about late-nineteenth-century elite culture, including Unfinished Piece for Player Piano (1977), Oblomov (1980), and Dark Eyes (1987). Five Evenings (1978) is a beautifully photographed, finely etched treatment of love and loss set just after World War II. Urga (aka Close to Eden, 1992) is a powerful portrait of economic transformation and cultural encounter on the Russian-Mongolian border. Anna, 618 (1993) is a series of interviews with the director's daughter, which highlights the difficulties of growing up in late-communist society. Burnt by the Sun (1994), which won a U.S. Academy Award for best foreign language film, treats the complicated personal politics of the Stalinist period. The Barber of Siberia (1999) is a sprawling romantic epic with Russians and Americans in Siberiaan expensive multinational production which failed to win an audience. All of Mikhalkov's films are visually rich; he has a deft touch for lightening his dramas with comedy, and his characterizations can be subtle and complex.

Mikhalkov has also had a successful career as an actor. Physically imposing, he often plays characters who combine authority and power with poignancy or sentimentality. During the late 1990s, Mikhalkov became the president of the Russian Culture Fund and the chair of the Union of Russian Filmmakers.

See also: motion pictures


Beumers, Bergit. (2000). Burnt By the Sun. London: I.B. Tauris.

Horton, Andrew, and Brashinsky, Michael. (1992). The Zero Hour. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Lawton, Anna. (1992). Kinoglasnost: Soviet Cinema in Our Time. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Shalin, Dmitri N., ed. Russian Culture at the Crossroads: Paradoxes of Postcommunist Consciousness. Boulder, CO: Westview.

Joan Neuberger