Monday, November 9, 2009

Prisoner of the Mountains

Sergei Bodrov, 1996, Russian (8.9*)
This is a very touching and unusual anti-war story based on Leo Tolstoy's story Prisoner of the Caucasus. The story is updated to Russia's war with Islamic separatists in Chechnya, and begins with the ambush of a small Russian unit. Two soldiers are captured by guerillas, one a late teen named Vanya (Sergi Bodrov Jr.) who youth is accentuated by his attachment to his mother. Their captor is a man (Jemel Sikharulidze) who hopes to barter at least one in exchange for his son, arrested in town by the head of the local Russian army.

While held captive in a small, primitive yet beautiful stone village, Vanya develops a strong bond of friendship with his captor's young teenage daughter who oversees the captives, Dina (Susanna Mekhraliyeva), who thinks she will not be able to find a husband. At the same time, his mother works through the Russian army attempting to gain release for her son. Bodrov shows both sides of this story without bias, and allows the viewers to develop a rapport for all the characters and their predicaments. A foreign language film nominee for an Oscar and a Golden Globe, winner 5 "Nikas" (Russian film awards), including best picture and screenplay, and five other international awards.


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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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