wild, wild east


When I first moved to Moscow in the early 1990s, my friend Dasha gave me a gift-wrapped video. “Watch this,” she said. “It was made years ago but it will help you understand our country.” I assumed it was a melancholy epic by Andrei Tarkovsky, with lingering shots through rain-splattered windows, or perhaps a revolutionary classic such as Battleship Potemkin.

When I unwrapped the paper and looked at the cover, I found a man in a grubby white uniform surrounded by sand dunes. “White Sun of the Desert,” said Dasha. “It’s a Soviet-style cowboy film. The best one ever made.”

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