You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Admiral

A staunchly old-fashioned epic, conservative in every sense.

With: Konstantin Khabensky, Elizaveta Boyarskaya, Vladislav Vetrov, Sergei Bezrukov, Richard Bohringer, Fyodor Bondarchuk, Anna Kovalchuk. (Russian, French dialogue)

Touted by its own marketing as Russia’s most expensive production ever (budget is alleged to have been around $20 million), war-film-cum-love-story “The Admiral” reps a staunchly old-fashioned epic, conservative in every sense. A substantial change of direction for helmer Andrey Kravchuk, whose last was gritty kidpic “The Italian,” pic deploys visual effects and a cast of hundreds to rehabilitate the reputation of a hitherto vilified military leader who fought against the Bolsheviks during the Revolution. Given the current belligerent, nationalistic climate in Russia, it’s no surprise the pic’s been a boffo hit domestically, but export potential looks negligible.

Pic kicks off with an impressively choreographed, CGI-laden battle sequence at sea circa 1916 that establishes lead character, Rear Adm. Alexander Kolchak (played by megastar Konstantin Khabensky from “Nightwatch,” just OK here) as a fearsome tactician and all-round man of iron.

Married to Sofia (Anna Kovalchuk) and father of a child, Kolchak has just one weakness: an eye for the ladies, which long-suffering Sofia quietly tolerates.

However, it’s a whole new ballgame when Kolchak falls heavily for fellow officer Sergey Timirev’s (Vladislav Vetrov) beautiful wife Anna (Elizaveta Boyarskaya, reteaming with Khabensky after their monster hit “Irony of Fate 2”). Although Kolchak and Anna try to suppress their passion, and pesky historical events like the overthrow of the monarchy and the Russian Revolution contrive to separate them temporarily, they end up risking life, limb and reputation to be together, even in the middle of Siberia where Kolchak ends his career fighting against the Red Army.

Oddly enough, though, “Admiral’s” screenplay takes such pains to present Kolchak and Anna as fervent Christians (he even regularly leads his men in prayer while artillery rains down around them), that it’s never quite clear if they ever consummate their love.

It would seem the film is targeting itself squarely at Russia’s right-wing demographic, particularly those who want to rehabilitate Kolchak as a national hero after years of vilification by the Soviets. For the record, the pic has reaped mucho controversy in the press at home, where some historians have denounced its many factual inaccuracies and pointed out that the real Kolchak was a despot, proponent of torture and poor military strategist on land to boot.

Strictly as a film, however, “Admiral” is entertaining enough in a retro “Doctor Zhivago”/”War and Peace” sort of way, with its big setpieces, lavish costumes and string-laden orchestral score. For all intents and purposes, pic reps a virtual mirror image of those old patriotic Soviet-era movies wherein the Reds were the heroes and the White Army the baddies.

The Admiral


Production: A Channel One Film Direction presentation of a Dago Studio production. (International sales: Rezo, Paris.) Produced by Anatoly Maximov, Djanik Faiziev, Konstantin Ernst, Mikhail Churbanov, Dimitri Yurkov. Directed by Andrey Kravchuk. Screenplay, Vladimir Valutsky, Zoya Coudrie.

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen), Igor Grinyakin, Alexei Rodionov; editor, Tom Rolf; music, Ruslan Muratov, Gleb Matveichuk; production designers, Maria Turskaya, Alexander Zagoski; sound (Dolby Digital), Vladimir Litrovnik; supervising sound editor, Kirill Bodrov. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (market), Feb. 8, 2009. Running time: 124 MIN.

With: With: Konstantin Khabensky, Elizaveta Boyarskaya, Vladislav Vetrov, Sergei Bezrukov, Richard Bohringer, Fyodor Bondarchuk, Anna Kovalchuk. (Russian, French dialogue)

More Film

  • Festival director Thierry Fremaux speaks to

    Cannes: Thierry Fremaux on the Lineup's Record Number of Female Directors, American Cinema and Political Films

    The Cannes Film Festival has unveiled a lineup for its 72nd edition that includes some high-profile Hollywood titles, genre movies and films from 13 female directors. The official selection has been applauded by many for mixing established auteurs like Pedro Almodovar (“Pain and Glory”), Terrence Malick (“A Hidden Life”) and Xavier Dolan (“Matthias and Maxime”) [...]


    Film Review: 'Nureyev'

    It would be absurd to say that Rudolf Nureyev lived, or danced, in anyone’s shadow. He was a man who leapt and twirled and flew onstage, all muscle but light as a feather, with a freedom and force that reconfigured the human spirit. There’s no denying, though, that over the last few decades, and especially [...]

  • Die Kinder Der Toten review

    Film Review: 'Die Kinder Der Toten'

    The hills are alive (or rather, undead), with the sound of music (also mastication and the moaning of zombies) in Kelly Copper and Pavol Liska’s experimental, dialogue-free, home-movie-style riff on Elfriede Jelinek’s “Die Kinder Der Toten” (The Children of the Dead). A seminal text in Jelinek’s native Austria, the 1995 book has never been translated [...]

  • Idol review

    Film Review: 'Idol'

    How many twists can a plot undergo before it snaps? This, more than any of the many political, moral and personal conundrums that snake through “Idol,” seems to be the question writer-director Lee Su-jin is most interested in posing with his extravagantly incomprehensible sophomore feature. A seedy political thriller by way of grisly revenge movie [...]

  • The Last to See Them review

    Film Review: 'The Last to See Them'

    Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood” stretches long as a late-evening shadow over Italian director Sara Summa’s feature debut “The Last to See Them.” The Italian title, “Gli Ultimi Viderli Vivere” which translates literally to “The Last to See Them Alive,” is also the heading of the opening chapter of Capote’s book. The setting is, similarly, [...]

  • Kalank

    Film Review: ‘Kalank’

    Events leading to the 1947 Partition of India serve as the forebodingly serious backdrop for the exhaustingly overextended razzmatazz of “Kalank,” writer-director Abhishek Varman’s lavish but ponderous Bollywood extravaganza, which opened in the U.S. on more than 300 screens the same day as its Indian release. Despite the preponderance of sets and costumes spectacular enough [...]

  • WGA Agency Packaging Fight Placeholder Writer

    WGA: 92 Percent of Writers Who Signed Statement of Support Have Fired Agents

    The Writers Guild of America estimated that over 92 percent of their members who support a new code of conduct for talent agencies have fired those representatives. Letters announcing formal termination will be delivered on Monday, the guild said in a late-hitting memo on Thursday, as most agencies will be closed tomorrow in observance of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content