Latest Russian blockbuster fits Kremlin script

Mon Oct 6, 2008 1:12pm EDT
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By Michael Stott

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's latest blockbuster film hopes to woo big foreign audiences with an epic tale of doomed love set amid the chaos of the Russian Civil War; its politics conveniently chime with a Kremlin-sponsored mood of patriotism.

"Admiral," which has its world premiere on Monday evening, glorifies Alexander Kolchak, a former naval hero who led White Russian forces into battle against the Bolsheviks in Siberia and briefly became Supreme Governor of Russia before meeting an untimely end at the hands of a communist firing squad.

Despised in Soviet times as a Tsarist enemy of the people, Kolchak is back in fashion as the Kremlin tries to reconnect today's resurgent Russia with its glorious imperial past and bury the 74 years of communism which came in between.

"It's very important we talk about our history, our country, our officers," director Andrei Kravchuk said in an interview.

"If we understand that we had such a history, such people... we can fill ourselves with dignity, and the notion of motherland and patriotism, which can seem worn and tarnished, gains new, concrete, visible meaning."

The film's backers hope that the epic, which opens across Russia this Thursday in a record 1,250 prints, will secure the same success at home and abroad as an earlier hit by the same producers, the 2004 fantasy horror film "Night Watch."

Boasting a $20 million budget -- huge by Russian standards -- "Admiral" portrays Kolchak as a fearless naval commander, loving father, dashing lover and principled leader of the doomed White Russians as they make a final stand in the winter snow.

After a fond farewell to his lover -- his best friend's wife -- he faces the Bolshevik firing squad bravely in the winter night standing in front of a cathedral and refusing a blindfold. His executioners wrap his body in a white shroud and throw it into a river through a hole cut in the ice.   Continued...