Irish Film Institute -Prisoner of the Mountains

Prisoner of the Mountains

Director: Sergei Bodrov

Adapted from the Tolstoy novel Caucasian Captive, Prisoner of the Mountains is a potent anti-war drama and the first major film to come out of the Chechen conflict. Winner of the clutch of awards from festivals world-wide, and nominated for an Oscar as Best Foreign Film, this powerful work by director Sergei Bodrov makes stunning use of its breathtaking mountaintop settings.
War rages in the Caucasus and a Russian unit sent to the remote province is ambused. Two wounded Russian soldiers, Sacha (Oleg Menshikov) and young recruit Vanya (Sergei Bodrov Jnr.), are taken to a mountain village by a Chechen elder, Abdul-Murat (Djemel Sikharulidze). The two are held hostage whilst Abdul-Murat devises a plan to exchange them for his son, who has been imprisoned by the Russian army. With the passing days the two soldiers form a bond and gradually ingratiate themselves with the villagers. Vanya fixes watches for the locals and develops a strong friendship with his captor’s daughter. But when the soldiers decide to make their escape, the exchange is thwarted and human instiincts inevitably complicate the course of events.
We used Tolstoy’s thoughts about peace and war, says writer-director Bodrov. Life is short, the world is small. Why are people fighting each other after thousands of years? It’s easier to kill a man than to love him, but we have to try. With its captivating performances, deep humanity and arresting visual imagery, Prisoner of the Mountains is a stunningly beautiful film.

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