Prisoner of the Mountains (Kavkazski plennik)

Director: Sergei Bodrov
Screenwriters: Arif Aliev, Sergei Bodrov, Boris Giller

Institute History

  • 1997 Sundance Film Festival


Sergei Bodrov’s Prisoner of the Mountains is a stunningly beautiful fable of love and war. The film unfolds high in a breathtaking mountain village against the contemporary backdrop of the Chechen War. Two Russian soldiers are held hostage by a Chechen man in his family home. His desperate hope is to exchange them for his own son, who has been captured by the Russian army. What results is an insightful exploration of bonds that develop between captive and keeper and the resonating effects of war on ordinary people.

What is most striking about the film, which won the Audience Award at Cannes, is Bodrov has taken this story and made it an exceptionally witty human comedy. He cleverly plays with the issues by giving the two Russians, who are literally linked together, two markedly different personas. Sasha, the veteran, is dashing and impulsive;Vania is young and raw, still a teenager in fact. The young daughter of the captor, wise beyond her years, serves as the voice of compassion. The hint of young love that could blossom between her and Vania at another time or place is only one reminder of the many casualties of wartime.

— John Cooper

Screening Details

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