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Old 09-27-2002, 02:33 AM   #4
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I heard about this a mere hour after I read about Misha Youznhy's father's death here. I loved his work in "East-West", which admittedly is the only film of his I ever saw

Here's the New York Times article:

Rising Star Lost in Russia's Latest Disaster
By MICHAEL WINES


MOSCOW, Sept. 23--Nearly 6,000 feet up the Caucasus Mountains last Friday evening, Sergei Bodrov Jr., Russia's hottest young movie star, had wrapped up the second day of shooting on his latest film and was preparing to descend to the flatlands below.

Three cameramen and a driver, impatient for the weekend to start, were the first to leave in their minivan.

"They decided not to wait," Aleksei Ternovsky, the senior administrator for the film, said in a telephone interview today. "When they went down, the rest of the crew was already in their cars."

But the stragglers, led by the 30-year-old Mr. Bodrov, never made it to the bottom. Within minutes, an immense glacier, severed from the mountain near its 15,700-foot peak, roared through the nearby hillside village of Karmadon, burying much of it in up to 500 feet of ice and debris.

The disaster was the latest in a summer-long string of catastrophes that have all but turned Ivans into Jobs.

Rescuers have found 27 survivors and 8 bodies, few of them identified, and at least 95 people are missing.

But ordinary Russians had eyes only for Mr. Bodrov, who streaked to fame as the star of two shoot-em-ups that struck a deep chord in people made helpless by the lawlessness and chaos of the mid-1990's.

"Only a miracle could save him from the avalanche," screamed a headline on the front page of today's issue of the Moscow daily Gazeta. A color photograph of Mr. Bodrov, clad in a windbreaker, took up a quarter of the page.

Rescue workers were reported to have recovered the bodies of two other crew members by this evening, three days after the catastrophe. If Mr. Bodrov also died, as seems likely, it is unclear when his body might be found. Emergency officials were considering tonight whether to curtail or call off what has become a fruitless hunt for survivors.

Today Russian television broadcast new scenes of devastation from the landslide, which began when roughly one-third of the Maili glacier--three million tons of ice, by one estimate--split from a Caucasus peak and plowed 10 miles down a mountain gorge.

Videotape showed rescuers hacking with hand tools at huge ice blocks, and towns inundated by floods from melting ice and debris-blocked streams. An official of the federal emergencies ministry said the tongue of black mud and ice averaged 17 to 33 feet deep and 175 feet wide.

"It's a very complicated situation," the official said in an interview. "The 468 rescuers, both local and brought from Moscow, have everything necessary and are doing their utmost."

For Russia, this has been a summer to forget. About 70 people, many of them children, died in May after rebels bombed a military parade in Dagestan, also in southern Russia. Another 154 Russians--again, many of them young--died in a midair collision over Germany in July. And 119 perished last month after a grossly overloaded military helicopter crashed in Chechnya, apparently after being hit by a rebel missile.

Scientists speculated today that global warming might have set off this latest and most bizarre of the tragedies. But Russia's ceaseless conspiracy mill quickly produced speculation that Chechen militants had split the glacier apart — or that the film crew had caused the disaster by using explosives during filming.

In fact, the film was being shot thousands of feet below the glaciers. The ice and debris tumbled through a spot above the village of Karmadon where the crew had been packing equipment for transport.

If Mr. Bodrov was swept up in the landslide, Russia will have lost its most celebrated and versatile young actor, albeit not--in some critics' view--its most skillful. The son of an eminent Russian film director who now lives in the United States, Mr. Bodrov got his start on Russian television, as a talk show host, in the early 1990's.

He gained fame in 1996, starring in an antiwar film directed by his father, "Prisoner of the Caucasus" (called "Prisoner of the Mountains" when it was released in the United States the next year), which was nominated for an Academy Award.

But he became a matinee idol in 1997, when he played the lead role in "Brother," a middle-brow film about a naïve yet bloodless young man who follows a beloved older brother into the contract-killing business after fighting in Chechnya.

With its twin themes of enduring loyalty and vigilante justice, "Brother" became a sensation in a nation weary of the every-man-for-himself mantra of post-Soviet Russia. Mr. Bodrov became even more popular after the sequel, "Brother 2," in which his character mowed down American mafiosi to rescue a Chechnya war veteran in trouble.

In 2000, Mr. Bodrov played a leading role in a second Oscar-nominated film, "East-West," in which the French director, Regis Wargnier, told the story of Russian exiles who returned to the Soviet Union after World War II only to suffer Stalin's persecution.

Before embarking on his latest film, Mr. Bodrov returned to television as the host of the Russian version of the international game-show hit "Survivor."

"He's an actor who, perhaps, is not very talented, but he's quite exact in expressing the expectations of young Russia," Daniil B. Dondurei, chief editor of Moscow's Cinema Art magazine, said in an interview. "He's an ideal type. And that's more important than an actor's skill."

The newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda adapted an old Russian saying to sum up the actor's hold on the Russian psyche. "Putin is our president," the newspaper wrote, referring to President Vladimir V. Putin. "Sergei Bodrov is our brother."
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