Monday, December 12, 2005

Prisoner of the Mountains * * *

In my continuing quest to watch some modern Russian blockbusters, I checked out Prisoner of the Mountains, which got a bunch of awards and has shown up on many foreign film bloggers lists of "good recent foreign films".

This is an engaging modern adaptation of a short story by Leo Tolstoy (written 150 years ago) about two Russian soldiers who get captured and are held as prisoners for to be exchanged for a Chechen prisoner. Given the nature of the Chechen conflict, this is also a movie about the sheer randomness and casual waste of young lives in war. But don't worry it's not a moralizing movie.

Particularyly if you've read stories about Chechnya and have wondered what it's like there, you might especially enjoy this movie. It's beautiful. Really beautiful. High stark mountains and sweeping vistas. You get to walk through the narrow streets of a Chechen village carved out of the top of a mountain, and hear the traditional songs. It makes you want to go there, except that you might get killed. This was filmed very close to the fighting.

Overall, it's a good movie to get on a Saturday night to watch with friends.

Trivia: The two male lead actors (Oleg Menshikov and Sergei Bodrov. Jr. who play the prisoners) are both very famous Russian actors. Oleg played Mitya in Burnt by the Sun.

Available in many big name video rental places and via Netflix.