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The Thief (1998)

Vladimir Mashkov , Yekaterina Rednikova , Pavel Chukhray  |  R |  DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)

Price: $43.33 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Product Details

  • Actors: Vladimir Mashkov, Yekaterina Rednikova, Mikhail Filipchuk, Dmitriy Chigaryov, Yury Belyayev
  • Directors: Pavel Chukhray
  • Writers: Pavel Chukhray
  • Producers: Igor Bortnikov, Igor Tolstunov, RaphaŽl Berdugo, Sergey Kozlov
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Letterboxed, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: Russian (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • 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: Sony Pictures
  • DVD Release Date: April 27, 1999
  • Run Time: 96 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 0767831411
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #108,436 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Thief" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

If you were a widow with a young boy in 1952 Russia, you might take up with a handsome army captain you met on a train. You both would need protection from this post-war world in disarray. And what more solid figure than this officer whose chest proudly displays a tattoo of Stalin? Only the officer is a charismatic but often cruel and despotic thief in disguise named Tolyan (Vladimir Mashkov). And the mother Katia (Ekaterina Rednikova), in love despite herself, and the 6-year-old Sanya (Misha Philipchuk), in wide-eyed adoration and fear, are stuck with a nomadic life that demands they relocate whenever their thief-protector's safety becomes chancy. This is the story as you experience it, told in voiceover years later by the boy, a romantic tale of challenged innocence as revisited by experience. And each frame, hazy and tinted with the erosion of memory, seems permeated with the distance between these two Sanyas.

That's the experiential story. But there's another one that holds up Tolyan as Stalin and the boy as the New Russia that must rid itself of the tyrant, and that story is so pat it seems dispensable. Luckily, director Pavel Chukhraj has an interesting enough visual imagination, and a keen ability to either discover or tease out engaging performances, that you can quietly shut out the easy political allegory. As played by Vladimir Mashkov, Tolyan amply translates to the audience the fascination he holds for young Sanya and his mother. In fact, all three performances hold the eye and the mind, belying any programmatic elements embodied by the allegorical plot. The Thief was a 1998 Academy Award nominee for Best Foreign Language film. --Jim Gay


Superb! Intimate and Epic! --Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times

Beautiful! --San Francisco Chronicle

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars UK version not cut December 4, 2001
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
I'd just like to let everyone know who read the comments by the reviewer from Moscow, Russia above that the UK version is uncut and unchanged from the original. In fact I was disgusted to hear that they've cut the ending in the US (DVD?) version. The whole point of the ending shows how Sanyas' life outlook and where he took his life were all being affected by Tolyan. Get the UK version if you can, the US version has been ruined by dropping the original ending.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
I saw this movie for the first time when it came out in Russia. It made a very strong impression on me. I am sure you will also find it hard not to feel for the Russian woman, used to being strong, yet so in need of love and protection, and for the boy searching for a father figure in the same horrible world of post-war Russia. Unfortunately, in its American version, the movie had to be cut (probably to make it shorter). Some of the cuts I don't mind as much but cutting off the end of the movie is just over the top! The European version of the movie has another scene where Sanya, now in his forties and an officer taking part in the Afghanistan war ( a terrible part of Russian history, the Soviet version of Vietnam ) and meets Tolyan (who did not die, after all). I will not tell you the rest, in case you happen to find the European version. But I think this ending wraps up the movie much better than the American one.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The movie is about fatherhood September 10, 1999
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
For the little boy, Tolyan is his role model and his teacher, something that an ideal father should be. One important thing that's missing is father's love, and that void is filled up over time with regret, pity, and anger. Too bad that subtitled release of the movie cuts out the last scene that was in the original. It basically shows Sanya today and how his longing for that love chased him throughout the whole life and who he has become in today's Russia.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars beautiful portrait of a land, a nation and a family July 18, 2004
The Thief is a story of a young boy who learns his lessons in manhood from a tough stepfather with a Stalin tatoo, a supposed military man who is really a thief.
The three principal characters, the mother, stepfather, and son, are very convincingly played.
The scenes of life in Russia in the 1950s, from the communual apartments to the bleak landscapes, are magnificent. And the story of this boy's life is compelling.
It's tragic in the classic Russian tradition, but a mesmerizing story and a nice example of quality modern Russian filmmaking.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of my all-time favorites February 13, 2004
By A Customer
This movie is one of my all-time favorites. However, I must say that the last very important scene was deleted in this version of the movie compared to the original Russian version. It is unfortunate since that scene changes the whole moral of the story.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I was awe struck March 29, 2001
By Veritas
Format:VHS Tape
This movie made me cry like no other movie and I'm not a crier. The film is deeply profound, with so many hidden messages to think about. It is truly one of the best films I have ever seen.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Thief September 7, 2000
Fascinating character study of th early 50's Stalinist Soviet Union. Beyond the plot which others have already adequately commented, this movie takes a peek at the lives of 2 ordinary Russians who get involved with a career petty thief on the run from the Russian Army. The train scenes and communal apartment scenes are indicative of the lifestyles most urban Russians were living at this time. If you are interested in a realistic impression of Soviet life, this movie is for you.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Forget the Kleenex, get a towel December 22, 2003
The allegory in this film of a Stalin/USSR that the child Sanja must defeat went right over my head. So if you're looking for a deep analysis of the directors' subliminal intentions, I can't help you there. But I can tell you that "The Thief" struck me as the most poignant human drama I've seen since "Gallipolli".
Briefly, a soldier's widow with a young son is won over by Tolya, a striking figure in a Red Army uniform which indeed does gaurd a tattoo of Stalin. Once the widow has learned of Tolya's habitual theft, along with his lack of remorse and empathy for others, she is already caught in his romantic spell. And Sanja, at first terrified of this new man in the family, gradually trusts him more and more. Especially for the innocent child, portrayed in awestruck wonder by Misha Philipchuk, this set-up bodes heartbreak.
And the film does not disappoint in that expectation. This is well visualized when an older Sanja, alone and desperate to find Tolya, stares in disbelief as the latter, finally found, doesn't recognize him and ridicules his salutation of "Daddy"...the very nickname the con-artist had insisted on during their days together.
The most innocent and trusting in this film are prey to those whose only desire is to please themselves....and to use the innocents for that purpose. But except for the child, the "innocent" are not blameless in the scenarios that ensue. Sanja's mother,Katje, sees many signs throughout first scenes of Tolya's true character, in his gruffness and cruelty to others, but she stays with him nonetheless, even to the point of jeapordizing her own life.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A great moving picture which touches the heart!
The acting was first class and the story was well thought out. It is a great insight into the human heart.
Published 1 month ago by Nick Bendillo
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie...
About a Russia woman, her son and a con man pretending to be a Russian soldier. I really liked this movie, very believable.
Published 12 months ago by SSP
5.0 out of 5 stars A tear jerker, but an amazing movie...
Post war, Russia, Soviet Union. A woman with her son meets a soldier. At that time, wearing a uniform opened doors, gave you higher standing and respect, but a soldier with charm,... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Jakey D
4.0 out of 5 stars I Remember Papa (or do I)?
I noticed this movie from its' nomination for an Oscar in the Best Foreign Language Film category. That's usually a solid category in which to find quality movies and "The Thief"... Read more
Published on September 5, 2009 by Randy Keehn
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Movie
This is a great movie during post war Russia in economical crisis and recovery. The child actor is excellent, as well as all others. Read more
Published on May 12, 2009 by Abe Rosales
5.0 out of 5 stars A Definite Addition To A Fine Collection
Amazing child acting, beautiful actors, a must-see Soviet drama. Waiting for the DVD price to come down.
Published on January 30, 2009 by Jae
5.0 out of 5 stars Russian Post WWII Saga
I lived in Moscw for 6 months in 1977 and have been back 4 additional times since then so I feel I know the Russian soul fairly well. This movie felt right for me. Read more
Published on April 10, 2008 by Frank Cannonito
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
This is one of the best Russian films I have seen. You will not see a boring movie like our American all-to-predictable endings. Read more
Published on September 21, 2007 by Shawn Irwin
5.0 out of 5 stars A Film Well Worth Re-Visiting
Pavel Chukhraj's award winning film THE THIEF is one of those special films that should be owned and revisited - like a favorite novel or poem or symphony. Read more
Published on August 27, 2005 by Grady Harp
5.0 out of 5 stars Vor aka Bop aka The Thief
What gets me about this film is that most assume it`s about the Russian peoples relationship with Stalin. Yes, but that is just scratching the surface. Read more
Published on October 12, 2003 by ed hallick
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