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Unlike several films we have recently viewed, I actually enjoyed this one.  Perhaps it is because I read the short story on which this is (rather obviously) based over winter term and recognized the Tolstoyian elements (and I do like Tolstoy).  Then again, the film was visually quite beautiful.  I enjoyed the mountain scenery a great deal.

I think I do agree with our esteemed colleague that the film and short story are significantly different.  The short story left me feeling that the Tartars were these really frightening barbarians, even in the end after the main character escaped from them.  The film did a much better job at humanizing the projected enemies–they want basically the same things that the Russians want, have many of the same hobbies, and, one could argue, they are actually kinder to their prisoners than the Russians.  After all, we saw our heroes in chains wandering all over the picturesque mountain scenery, whereas the prisoners of the Russians were always in their cells.  And, of course, in the end the father ended up sparing our young hero’s life, even though the Russians randomly killed his son.

All in all, I thought the people of the Caucasus came out looking rather better than the Russians for a change.

One final note:  the drunken dancing scene was wonderful.  Just saying.

Here is something that is almost entirely not quite unrelated to this post:  Russian Dancing Men

Tags: prisoner, evil russians, tolstoy, Russian Dancing Men