"Love Transcends Political Differences"
PRISONER OF THE MOUNTAINS fits well into the tradition of stoic Russian film history. The two central characters, Sacha and Vania, are members of the Russian Army who are taken prisoner by a band of rebels in the Caucasus Mountains while en route to an unspecified station. Nestled deep in the crags of this rough range is a large settlement of Muslim rebels. Abdul is the apparent leader of the village, although he is subject to some greater rebel authority. His mission is to free his school-teacher son, who is being held prisoner by the Russians.
The ambush of a Russian caravan seems to be merely intended as harassment, but Abdul quickly takes advantage of the capture of Sacha, a sergeant, and Private Vania, who are hurt, but not mortally wounded in the scuffle. These two, Abdul determines, will make an excellent trade for his son. Abdul insists that his two prisoners write their mothers to tell of their safety and the desire for a trade. Abdul expects at least one mother to show, enough to convince the Russian commander that the two are alive and the trade is a real offer. Apparently, the Kazakhs (Abdul’s people) are not known for their generosity in sparing the lives of any Russian, let alone these two. While Abdul’s plan seems logical enough, he has gotten himself into deeper trouble than he knows by his imprisonment of Sacha. Sacha offers cynical, comic relief in this otherwise bleak story. His snide remarks provide needed levity, as well as unnecessary vulgarity. Sacha, in his late thirties, and Vania, a young private, manage to survive numerous tests inflicted upon them by Abdul’s associates. For instance, they force Sacha and Vania to walk through a Russian mine field, in order to make a safe path for the rebels. They succeed and prolong their chances.
Sacha was raised an orphan, so it is up to Vania’s worried mother to convince the Russian commander to act on their behalf. There is one failed attempt to trick Abdul into trading the two prisoners for an impostor. Because of this failure, Sacha and Vania begin to work on their own scheme. They escape their cell and are confronted by Hasan, Abdul’s mute assistant. In a scuffle, Hasan falls off a cliff, leaving Sacha and Vania . on the run. Recaptured by the rebels, Sacha is executed, and Vania is sent back to Abdul.
In one final attempt arranged by Vania’s mother, Abdul’s son is shot. It is evident that Abdul has begun to feel some compassion toward young Vania. However, he has no choice but to follow through the wishes and expectations of his rebel associates. He must execute the boy. Taking him to the mountain top, he fires a shot into the air and instructs the boy to keep walking as Russian helicopters fly overhead toward Abdul’s village and then proceed to destroy it.
While well packaged, this movie has a rough uncut feel that lends itself to an eccentric crowd. This is a movie for long cigarettes and a room filled with soft fusion jazz. If this is intended to be a message film, the message is unclear. Perhaps the filmmaker wanted to show that love can transcend political boundaries. It is in a greater sense, art for art’s sake. Rough and quirky, it seems to offer little more than a few laughs and some cynical clichés about love and war. Although it is in some ways moderately enjoyable, this film will fade into obscurity.
(H, FR, LL, V, N, A, D, M) Humanist worldview with some Muslim elements; 10 obscenities, 4 vulgarities & 1 profanity; some physical fighting & man is pushed off a cliff; brief male nudity; alcohol use; smoking; and, discussion of condom use
PRISONER OF THE MOUNTAINS fits well into the tradition of stoic Russian film history. The two central characters, Sergeant Sacha and Private Vania, are members of the Russian Army who are taken prisoner by Muslim rebels in the Caucasus Mountains. Abdul, the apparent leader of the rebel village, quickly takes advantage of the hostage situation. Sacha and Vania, Abdul determines, will make an excellent trade for his son, who has been captured by the Russians. Sacha and Vania manage to survive numerous tests inflicted upon them and eventually escape, only to be recaptured. After Sacha is shot, Abdul decides to let Vania go, just as the Russians arrive to bomb his village.
While packaged well, this movie has a rough uncut feel that lends itself to an eccentric crowd. This is a film for long cigarettes, and a room filled with soft fusion jazz. If this is intended to be a message film, the message is unclear. Perhaps the director wanted to show that love can transcend political boundaries. It is, in a greater sense, art for art’s sake. Rough and quirky, it contains some cynical clichés about love and war. Containing some violence, foul language and some nudity, it is a serious, but unpolished, art house movie