Prisoner Of The Mountains

  • 1996
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Drama, War

Based on Tolstoy's novella Prisoner of the Caucasus, this Russian film has a bit of an identity crisis: The tone vacillates between hesitant, quasi sentimental comedy and something darker, eventually settling uncomfortably into conventional buddy-picture mode. A Russian patrol is ambushed by Chechen rebels, and two soldiers -- green recruit Vania and older...read more

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Based on Tolstoy's novella Prisoner of the Caucasus, this Russian film has a bit of an identity crisis: The tone vacillates between hesitant, quasi sentimental comedy and something darker, eventually settling uncomfortably into conventional buddy-picture mode. A

Russian patrol is ambushed by Chechen rebels, and two soldiers -- green recruit Vania and older officer Sacha -- are taken hostage by Abdoul-Mourat, a Chechen villager who wants to trade them for his son, who's being held by the Russian military. A mute friend keeps close watch over the prisoners

who, like all movie protagonists chained to each other, at first don't get along. Sacha eventually softens towards Vania, even as he nurses plans to escape. The film's spectacular Chechen locations function as another character in the story, and the finale is genuinely powerful: The portentous

image of helicopters swooping down into Abdoul-Morat's village reminds us of the insect like nature of human existence. But the film is like a beetle on its back: all desperate kicking and thrashing, to no avail. By the time it finds something significant to say about human relationships formed

across apparently impregnable lines of difference, it's too little, too late.

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  • Released: 1996
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Based on Tolstoy's novella Prisoner of the Caucasus, this Russian film has a bit of an identity crisis: The tone vacillates between hesitant, quasi sentimental comedy and something darker, eventually settling uncomfortably into conventional buddy-picture m… (more)

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