I’m always a bit nervous when it comes to watch a film based on a book. And so was I when I heard that Lev Tolstoi’s novel “The Prisoner of the Caucasus” had been adapted. In his novel, Tolstoi tells the story of a Russian officer, in post in the Caucasus mountains during the Crimean war around 1850, who is captured along with a fellow officer by the Tatars and taken in their village in the mountain.
150 years later, Chechnya’s war still make it dangerous for a Russian soldier to travel alone in this part of the country. And this is what Sergei Bodrov has chosen to show by revisiting Tolsoi’s novel and adapted it for a film.
And the film is truly good, showing some wonderful landscapes and life in a remove mountainous village, with ancestral traditions. Bodrov goes farther than just showing the relations between the two Russian prisoners and the inhabitants of the village, he offers the two officers and the audience a cultural voyage in a region where it seems that the word “peace” as no place.
“Кавказский пленник” (Prisoner of the Mountains) was shot in 1996 during the First Chechen War in the mountains of Dagestan, and most of the actors chosen by Bodrov are non-professionals.