And this is without going into the historical side of things - portraying Kolchak as a paragon of nobility and patriotism is... problematic, to say the least.
I'm such an enthusiast for lost causes, movements which I imbue with my own romantic vision: the Cavaliers of the English Civil War, the Confederates of the American Civil War and the White Guard of the Russian Civil War.
I have a particular enthusiasm for the latter, for the men and women who tried to save Russia from Lenin and his criminal band. I have a particular enthusiasm for the leaders of the White Army; men like Anton Denikin, Pytor Wrangel and Aleksandr Kolchak. Ever since the fall of communism there has been a new appreciation of these people, once defiled. When I was in Moscow I was able to lay some flowers on the grave of Denikin, reinterred with honours in Donskoy Monastery in October, 2005.
It was therefore with considerable anticipation that I recently approached The Admiral, a 2008 Russian-language movie about Aleksandr Kolchak, once an Arctic explorer, an admiral in the Imperial Russian Navy and finally head of the anti-Communist forces in Siberia as Supreme Ruler of Russia, captured and executed in February, 1920. Once vilified by the Soviets, there are now monuments to his memory in both Saint Petersburg and Irkutsk.
The Admiral, unfortunately, is a plodding disappointment, a movie constructed in such a way that it inevitably invites comparison with David Lean's Doctor Zhivago, far superior in every sense. Doctor Zhivago is a love story set against the grand sweep of Russian history, a tale of ordinary lives being submerged by history.
The Admiral is also a love story, that between Kolchak (Konstantin Khabensky) and Anna Timiryova (Elizaveta Boyarskaya), a poet and his long-standing mistress. The couple are handsome, just as handsome as Omar Sharif as Zhivago and Julie Christie as Lara, but sadly there is no chemistry at all, no spark of life in their tepid romance. Their exchanges are wooden, their encounters barren.
The other point of contrast is the handling of the wider themes, the handling of events. In Zhivago the scenes of war, of revolution and of civil war were woven effortlessly into the lives of the principle characters. But with The Admiral, despite some impressive moments, including the early footage of naval combat during the First World War, history seems to hang around, waiting to be introduced at periodic interludes.
I was so looking forward to seeing this movie. A reassessment of the career of Kolchak and the struggle of the anti-communist resistance was long overdue. My disappointment at this uninspiring and plodding effort was therefore so much the greater.
Plus, there is a huge amount of predictabliity about it all. Anyone who has a vague idea of how the Russian Revolution ended will know the story won't end well.
de Pavel Lounguine par exemple).
Les sc√®nes de batailles (notamment navales) sont convaincantes, bien qu'influenc√©es par les imp√©ratifs d'un cin√©ma √† grand spectacle.
Le film, financ√© par minist√®re de la Culture Russe (distribu√© chez nous par France 2), s'attache - efficacement - √† valoriser le patriotisme de l'amiral Kolchak et son rejet de la r√©volution bolchevique. Dans la d√©marche, j'ai retrouv√© un peu la m√™me approche que dans les 2 films anglais sur Elisabeth d'Angleterre (1998 et 200!) : pr√©sentation volontairement positive de l'histoire, malgr√© le caract√®re dramatique et complexe des √©v√©nements et les 70 ann√©es d'URSS qui avaient rang√© Kolchak parmi les ennemis de la nation. La valeur de l'homme Kolchak, son courage, ses qualit√©s de soldats, sa droiture, sa foi in√©branlable, sont mises en avant plus que ses id√©es politiques. C'est donc un oeuvre de r√©habilitation d'un homme plus que de son action.
Le film √©vite l'√©cueil du manich√©isme, il est plus s√©v√®re envers le g√©n√©ral fran√ßais Janin et les Tch√®ques qui trahissent Kolchak qu'envers les bolcheviques. Cela est bien r√©sumer par une r√©plique entre deux russes qui ent√®rent des cadavres m√™l√©s de Blancs et de Rouges apr√®s une bataille : " on les met ensemble dans la tombe, ce sont tous des Orthodoxes ".
L'accueil enthousiaste qui a √©t√© fait au film t√©moigne en tout cas du renversement des valeurs en Russie et de la "synth√®se" de type bonapartiste (qui voulait r√©concili√© la France d'ancien r√©gime avec la r√©volution) que tentent le pouvoir actuel en valorisant tous les h√©ros de la Russie de toutes les √©poques (y compris certains h√©ros communistes).
Pour terminer sur le film, je ne me suis pas ennuy√© un seconde, car comme je le disais au d√©but, il est bien fait, bien jou√© (il y a m√™me notre Richard Bohringer) et subordonne la "grande histoire" √† une histoire d'amour tr√®s romantique, ce que j'ai √©galement appr√©ci√© dans la construction du sc√©nario comme dans l'id√©e sous-jacente.
A voir donc, car tr√®s int√©ressant sur la Russie d'hier comme sur celle d'aujourd'hui.
would rather watch some elem klimov. or tarkovsky.
Yet strangely I seem to be the only person to have noticed the irony towards the end of the blurb on the box when it acclaims that this movie has been "Produced at the height of a resurgence in Russian nationalism during the early 21st century", humm.
Anyway in reference to the film this is certainly an excellent movie if one compares it to other world cinema films but actually is quite a modest fare.
Certainly the overall story of the last four years of Admiral Kolchak and the intertwining love story with Elizaveta Boyarskaya's character is interesting and elements of the film are clever but there is some significant problems.
Firstly it is hard to judge a historical drama without knowing the background of the actual person thus I think this movie lacks credibility with a non Russian audience.
Secondly I felt though this movie contains solid performances from Konstantin Khabenskiy (to the point actually I took him as the Admiral rather than Anton from Night watch that had wanted onto the set), this film is essentially full of very good ideas that are started but are not satisfactorily resolved.
Essentially this film is an excellent example of Russian cinema but is when compared to other movies a solid above average entertaining watch.
Verdict One for dvd