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4.3 out of 5 stars55
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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.
0Comment53 of 56 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 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.
11 comment25 of 25 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on August 9, 2001
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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on August 2, 2004
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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on June 29, 2001
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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on November 29, 2004
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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on March 1, 2001
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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on July 23, 2002
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.
0Comment10 of 10 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on September 23, 2005
THE STORY: Two Russian soldiers are taken hostage by a small Chechen establishment. The idea was to trade them for the POW son of one of the Chechen men.

WHAT'S GOOD: The soundtrack is amazing. The filming is simple, raw and honest. This is not a special effects war movie. It's a story about friendship and breaking down barriers between people that technically should not be associating.

STANDOUT CHARACTERS: The young Russian soldier does a good job of being innocent and naive..The girl who plays the Chechen Dina..she's memorable. Hasan, with his tongue cut off by the Russians, somehow makes up for the fact that he has no audible means of communicating.

WHO IS IT FOR: Not for people who can't follow subtitles, and knowing a little Russian helped me when all the words were not translated. Definitely not for anyone seeking a high paced, blood and guts war movie.
0Comment9 of 10 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on December 30, 2002
I've rarely seen such a deeply moving movie. I never cry while watching a movie but this one made me cry several times, paticularly at the end...It was so beautiful...
Besides, Serguei Bodrov Jr. died last september in an avalanche and it makes the whole movie even sadder than it is :'-(
It definitely belongs to my favorite movies...
0Comment6 of 6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

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