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The Czar Wants to Sleep (1934)
"Poruchik Kizhe" (original title)

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A sarcastic comedy about the Russian-Soviet bureaucracy, based on the eponymous novella by Yuri Tynyanov. Set in the reign of Emperor Paul I. A copying error by a military scribe turns the ... See full summary »


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Title: The Czar Wants to Sleep (1934)

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Cast overview:
Mikhail Yanshin ...
Tsar Pavel I
Boris Gorin-Goryainov ...
Count von Pahlen
Nina Shaternikova ...
Princess Gagarina
Sofiya Magarill ...
Princess Gagarina's companion
Erast Garin ...
Mikhail Rostovtsev ...
Fortress commandant


A sarcastic comedy about the Russian-Soviet bureaucracy, based on the eponymous novella by Yuri Tynyanov. Set in the reign of Emperor Paul I. A copying error by a military scribe turns the Russian words for "the lieutenants, however" into what looks like "lieutenant Kizhe". The Tsar reads the error, and wants to meet this (non-existent) Lieutenant Kizhe. His courtiers are at first too frightened to contradict the Tsar, but then the fiction turns out to be all too convenient for them. So Lieutenant Kizhe gets himself exiled to Siberia, recalled from exile, promoted, and married. He dies and receives a state funeral. In many ways, he is the most charming and lovable character in the film, even though he remains throughout the film a "confidential person, without a shape". Written by Steve Shelokhonov, rev. by Skripach

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Release Date:

9 December 1934 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Czar Wants to Sleep  »

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Though the film is little known today, the five-movement suite Prokofiev arranged from his music for it (usually called "Lieutenant Kijé Suite") has become a standard classical concert piece and has been recorded often. See more »


The document with the crucial slip of the pen as corrected by Tsar Paul I is clearly not the same as the one written by the army scribe in the previous scene. In the first version, the second (mistaken) letter K is clearly larger than the first. In the version corrected by the Tsar, they are the same size. (Though the subtitles have the Tsar capitalizing the second K, what he is actually doing is adding a letter between the two two Ks - the Russian "hard sign" required at the end of many words in the pre-revolutionary spelling system. The effect is the same: to create a fictional Lieutenant Kizhe.) See more »


Palen: [subtitled version] The prisoner is confidential, and has no shape.
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Referenced in Children of the Revolution (1996) See more »


Lieutenant Kije
Sergei Prokofiev
See more »

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User Reviews

Is film available?
11 July 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

It is good to hear that this film exists. Do you know if this film is available to the public?

I am sure there is a tremendous interest here in the United States in seeing it. The Lieutenant Kije Suite is very popular here. I know that I, for one, have been dying to see this film almost all of my life. The story about antics pertaining to maintaining this fictitious personage -- at least what I heard of it through commentary accompanying the Suite -- sounds fascinating.

I really hope that the film is or becomes available. English subtitles would be nice for those who do not know Russian, but that can be worked around.

Lieutenant Kije fan

6 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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