Columbia University in the City of New York

Harriman Institute




Film Screening and Discussion. Boris
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Location Note

403 International Affairs Building
420 W 118th Street, 12th floor

This is a hybrid (in-person/virtual) event. Registration required for attendance. Please note that all attendees must follow Columbia’s COVID-19 Policies and Guidelines. Columbia University is committed to protecting the health and safety of its community. To that end, all visiting alumni and guests must meet the University requirement of full vaccination status in order to attend in-person events. Vaccination cards may be checked upon entry to all venues. All other attendees may participate in the discussion virtually on Zoom or YouTube.

Please join the Harriman Institute at Columbia University at 6pm for a screening of Boris, a film by Dmitry Krymov and Leonid Roberman. A hybrid discussion with Dmitry Krymov will begin at 7:45pm. This film is based on Alexander Pushkin’s play Boris Godunov. Moderated by Mark Lipovetsky.

The General Plot of Alexander Pushkin’s Boris Godunov

The story of the play is based on events that took place in Russian history. At the time, the Russian people were ruled by a tsar. The previous tsar, Ivan IV, known as “Ivan the Terrible,” was terribly cruel, and the Russian people suffered greatly under his rule. When he finally died, his son, Fyodor, became Tsar, but he was claimed to be mentally ill, so a group of powerful people including Boris Godunov chose to rule on his behalf. Ivan also had another son, Dmitry, who had mysteriously disappeared. He was almost certainly killed, and Boris Godunov, who wanted to become tsar himself, had probably ordered the murder. Boris then cleverly but easily persuaded the Russian people that they should choose him to be their tsar. Some years later, a young monk escapes from his monastery and pretends to be the murdered son of Ivan the Terrible. He gets a Polish army to help him to fight Boris Godunov. Overcome with guilt and paranoia, Boris suffers greatly and eventually dies. The young monk arrives in Moscow and makes himself tsar (Tsar Dmitri II). The ordinary Russian people remain desperately poor. It is their fate to suffer and be ruled by cruel tyrants

Krymov’s Boris

Dmitry Krymov’s production deconstructs and compresses the action of Pushkin’s story into a single day. Boris is about to ascend the throne and a concert has been organized in his honor. Typecasts of modern Russia – boyars (officials), “priests” of beaux arts (pianists and singers), and a holy fool (a bohemian poet) – obsequiously seek to entertain and please their new leader. The concert concludes when Boris meets his tragic end. This ironic theatrical collage is performed on the premises of the Museum of Moscow, which also provided the production with artifacts from the times of Ivan the Terrible and Boris Godunov. History becomes tangible when, on Pushkin’s line, “Now let us go, bow to the coffins / The reposed rulers of Russia,” real coffins are brought onto the stage. But for Krymov, much more important than bringing together stinking antiquity and the foul smelling reality of today is the meeting of authentic museum items with obvious theatrical props, leaving you with the feeling that the director wants primarily to teach us to distinguish the real from the fake and to unmask the many simulacra of the reality of Russia today.