This film is based on the book about Vasili Ivanovich Chapaev (1887 - 1919) who was in real life the Commander of the 25th Division of the Red Army. Chapaev is an uneducated peasant and a ... See full summary »
Forget about the terrible Stalin's purges that were going on in the Soviet Union when this film, or rather its 1 Episode, was shot. The film has none of the Stalinist propaganda or dull Soviet ethics. This is a great, bright and powerful work. The role of the great Russian tzar Pyotr I is played by a brilliant Nikolay Simonov and he did a wonderful job. His Pyotr is wild, often terribly cruel, loud and unbearably ferocious to his enemies. He never hesitates and he breaks through like a wild bull. The 1 Episode tells about the terrible beginning of the North War with Sweden, the Russians are shamefully defeated and thus the Tzar starts his bloody reforms. He reorganizes the weak old army, he takes the church bells for the military sakes, he even is ready to arrest his own weak and sickly son Aleksey who is in fact his terrible feud. The second excellent role here is Aleksander Menshikov, the tzar's favorite aid, played by enigmatic Mr. Zharov. His part is cute, sly and so great that provokes a grand smile. The 1 Episode is also about the first military victories, the beginning of the Russian fleet and the foundation of the city of St.-Petersburg, exactly 300 years ago...
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