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Prisoner of the Mountains (1997)

Oleg Menshikov , Sergey Bodrov Jr. , Sergey Bodrov  |  R |  DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Oleg Menshikov, Sergey Bodrov Jr., Susanna Mekhraliyeva, Jemal Sikharulidze, Aleksandr Bureyev
  • Directors: Sergey Bodrov
  • Writers: Sergey Bodrov, Boris Giller, Arif Aliev, Leo Tolstoy
  • Producers: Sergey Bodrov, Boris Giller, Carolyn Cavallero, Eduard Krapivsky
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: Russian (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • DVD Release Date: July 1, 2003
  • Run Time: 99 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00008ZZ9M
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #90,220 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Prisoner of the Mountains" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Product Description

A stunning, emotionally charged indictment of war, this OscarÂ(r) nominee* for Best ForeignLanguage Film is at once 'thoughtful, moving (Roger Ebert), potent, engrossing (Variety),and unexpectedly affecting (The Wall Street Journal)! Two Russian soldiersa fresh recruit named Vanya and a hardened veteran named Sachaare taken hostage by Chechen guerillas after a deadly ambush leaves all of their comrades dead. Their captor, a battle-weary village elder,wants to use them as a bartering tool to get back his own son, held prisoner by the Russian army. But when the trade goes sour and all trust is broken, Vanya and Sacha realize their hours are numbered and attempt to escape before they're forced to join their comrades in death. *1996

There's a beautiful irony in the way that the most specific war tales are often the most universal. Set high in the imposing, isolated Caucasus mountains, where the 20th century meets ancient lifestyles, Sergei Bodrov's drama of the Chechyn war finds two opposing cultures locked in conflict for so long that the reasons seem moot. Young Russian grunt Vanya (Sergei Bodrov Jr., the director's son) and his jaded veteran Sergeant (Burnt by the Sun's Oleg Menshikov) survive an ambush by Chechyn guerrillas and wind up hostages of a village elder, a war-weary widower who has lost almost everything to fighting and wants merely to swap them for his POW son. Bodrov's humanism is directed with empathy and stirred with harsh realism--he takes no sides and offers no fantasies of happy endings, only small miracles of kindness that refuse to be swallowed in the destruction and mistrust. --Sean Axmaker

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
49 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a memorable, moving film October 18, 2001
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
This beautiful award winner moves me every time I watch it, and there are scenes that are forever etched in my mind.
Taking place in Chechnya, it has the same Central Asian rugged terrain that we've seen in recent news stories of Afghanistan, one of the many reasons that makes this an interesting film to view...a glimpse into what is an enigmatic part of the world for most of us.
The cinematography (Pavel Lebeshev) and soundtrack (Leonid Desyatnikov) are marvelous, and the performances perfect. How director Sergei Bodrov managed to get such fine acting from the local villagers (like Susanna Mekhalieva, who plays "Dina"), is a marvel. As the two soldiers tied by fate, he cast his son, Sergei Bodrov Jr., and Oleg Menshikov (who was so brilliant in "Burnt by the Sun"), and they are superb.
Losely based on Tolstoy's tale for children, "Prisoner of the Caucausus", it's a film full of compassion and love, and has plot subtleties that make this rare gem of a film deserve several viewings.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bodrov does it again October 6, 2004
This film is absolutly amazing. Everything fits together, from the soundtrack, to the action, to the perfectly balanced love interest. It delves into a sensitive subject without seeming to be preachy or overly romantic or anything like that.
An Americanized audience may have trouble with this movie. One of the most frequent complaints I hear is that it is 'slow moving.' It is true that since the film is character driven, there are many long scenes of contemplation, just watching the character's face to see his reaction to something. And while that may appear 'boring' to an audience accustomed to something blowing up every couple minutes, it does really make you appreciate and sympathize with the characters.
This DVD is in the original Russian with English subtitles. I was overjoyed at this because many of my favorite foreign films can only be bought here in a dubbed version, and those just never do justice to the originals. The only extra on the disk is the English trailer.
If you want to see a really good movie and don't mind reading subtitles, watch this one.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful and haunting August 9, 2001
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful movie, wonderful in its simplicity and powerful in its ending. The scenery, setting, and characters are completely authentic and mesmerizing. I bought the tape because I am a fan of Oleg Menshikov and was not in the least disappoined. (A tip: don't read too much of the VHS cover jacket as it really gives too much of the movie away and is not completely accurate, in my opinion). All the way through the movie you dont't really know what will happen and when at the end you finally do, it is devastating. This movie will stay with you.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorites June 29, 2001
Format:VHS Tape
This is one of my absolute favorite movies. Prisoner of the Mountains portrays all of the main characters with warmth and dignity--there are no one-dimensional characters in this film. It is the story of two Russian prisoners, the man who hopes to trade them for his son, and his daughter. The director and the screen writers handled the relationships between them all with warmth and sensitivity.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape
If there were an annual international awards ceremony exclusively for films about war, the Russians would maul us Americans every time. In the case of "Prisoner of the Mountains," they walk away with best director, best actor, best supporting cast, and best script I've seen in years.

One of the most effective film techniques used by the Euros and Russians are the avoidance of close-ups in favor of medium shots, which allow the actors to say more with their bodies and which at the same time places them within a socio-historical context. I have yet to see a scene more moving than the one in which the two Russian soldiers, apparently having been abandoned in captivity by their own government, pass the time by dancing to the American spiritual "Let My People Go." Anyone who can remain dry-eyed during that sequence should ask the Wizard of Oz for a heart.

In powerful yet beautifully understated performances, the entire cast fills the viewer with a sense of the strength of humanity. Truly a masterpiece!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Prisoner of th Mountains March 1, 2001
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
This movie is hard to watch, and some people have also told me that it was a bit slow... BUT, it is also brilliant. If you are into Hollywood movies that spell everything out for you, then this is not the movie for you. Watch this movie with patience and you will find it both heartbreaking and full of subtle hilarity. Definitely a top choice for foreign movie buffs.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tragic, beautiful, mesmerizing... July 23, 2002
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
but not sappy or sentimental like my words above...Menshikov and Bodrov are wonderful together (see them also in East-West). The scenery is amazing. The politics of war are reduced to their most basic tragic element: war is a violation of the human spirit and dignity, but the best in us will somehow manage to rise above the violation. The characters bridge their class and cultural differences and connect just before the inevitable happens.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Human drama on the Caucasus peaks November 29, 2004
Format:VHS Tape
Sergei Bodrov has made a film which captivates the viewer. The two young Russians, soldier Vanya and sergeant Sasha are captured by Chechen guerillas during an ambush and they are held in a mountainous muslim village in order to be exchanged with a Chechen prisoner. Their stay among the Chechens will cause very different sentiments to each one: Vanya will come to admire them and even fall in love with a young girl, despite the imminent danger, while Sasha tries to uphold the image of the tough and dedicated Russian military man who does not yeld to the enemy. Their story takes an unexpected and tragic turn when they try to escape, but the finale is also dramatic. I found the most touching scene in a minor episode, when the two prisoners sit back to back on a rooftop looking at the surrounding mountains and the village and Sasha starts to sing a military song (V. Agapkin's immortal "Farewell to the Slavonian girl") which goes to a magnificent musical crescento while the sergeant tries to stop his tears, tame his fear and pull himself together.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars War, mountains, love, hate, death, forgiveness, loss.
This movies is simply classic in its themes. At the same time it is so immediate and unique in the setting and the plot. I bought it to share with my friends. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Carol B. Rice
5.0 out of 5 stars Internal conflicts in Post-Soviet Russia.
A fascinating account of national and religious conflicts in post-Soviet Russia. The film well illustrates the limits of the changes in the new Russia as well as the inevitability... Read more
Published 17 months ago by S B DAVIS
3.0 out of 5 stars A good Film and Timely
The film is not happy- but then it is Russian, so you should expect that. It is set in the first Chechan war and two Russian soldiers are captured to ransom a Chechan school... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Kenneth Petty
5.0 out of 5 stars Really liked this one....
A story of the Russian war in Afghanistan told in a way so you can see the conflict from both sides. The acting is great and the story is good and well worth your time to see.
Published 19 months ago by SSP
5.0 out of 5 stars It reminded me of Ballad of A Soldier
There is an innate fatalism in Russian movies, and tragedy is guaranteed. This movie is no exception. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Kafishna
3.0 out of 5 stars Three and a half stars
If I could I would put this movie at just below 4 stars. It was really nice photography and I enjoyed the representation of the culture. Read more
Published on September 2, 2012 by eaglebear
5.0 out of 5 stars Prisoner of the Mountains
Loosely inspired by one of Chekov's short stories, (I think it was 'The Wedding') where-in a Tsarist soldier escapes captivity by similar mountain people in very similar... Read more
Published on April 15, 2011 by Extraordinary Gent.
5.0 out of 5 stars Satisfied!
Compelling wartime story of handful of characters during Chechniya rebellion, each with his own perspective and agenda. Read more
Published on March 1, 2011 by MK
4.0 out of 5 stars PRISONER OF THE MOUNTAINS
In Prisoner of the Mountains, Sergei Bodorov directs his son, Sergei Jnr (star of the stylish gangster movie 'Brother). Read more
Published on November 15, 2010 by Robert Michael Rogers
5.0 out of 5 stars LOVED IT!!
Sergei Bodrov Jr. has some kind of magnetic charisma to him, even though he unfortunately died in 2002, he still lives! I highly recommend this movie, and all others with Sergei.
Published on October 18, 2010 by Money Is Not Power, Character Is Power
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