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Prisoner of the Mountains (1996)
"Kavkazskiy plennik" (original title)

R  |   |  Drama, War  |  31 January 1997 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 3,307 users  
Reviews: 25 user | 16 critic

Two Russian soldiers, one battle-seasoned and the other barely into his boots and uniform, are taken prisoner by an anxious Islamic father from a remote village hoping to trade them for his captured son.


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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 11 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »
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Complete credited cast:
Oleg Menshikov ...
Sacha Kostylin
Sergey Bodrov Jr. ...
Ivan (Vanya) Zhilin
Jemal Sikharulidze ...
Susanna Mekhraliyeva ...
Aleksandr Bureyev ...
Valentina Fedotova ...
Zhilin's Mother
Aleksey Zharkov ...
Maslov, the Russian Commander
T. Kibyev
Valeri Kostrin
Pavel Lebeshev ...
(as P. Lebeshev)


Based upon a short story by Leo Tolstoy, two Russian soldiers, Sacha and Vania, are ambushed by Muslim rebels in the grandly forbidding Caucasus and taken prisoner. Although complete understanding never fully emerges, their bittersweet ordeal reveals the human soul of two vastly different cultures. Written by Dawn M. Barclift

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


An extraordinary story of hope, courage and humanity.


Drama | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some violence and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






| | |

Release Date:

31 January 1997 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Prisoner of the Mountains  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$89,992 (USA) (7 February 1997)


$661,361 (USA) (28 March 1997)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The film was shot within 20 miles of actual battles then occurring between Russians and Chechens. Local Muslim guerrillas served as bogyguards for the cast and crew. The film tells the story of two prisoners of war, but truth is stranger than fiction: when the guerrillas found out that amateur actress Susanna Mekhraliyeva was paid for her job in U.S. dollars they took the whole film crew prisoner! Her salary was soon changed for Russian rubles and the shooting continued as if nothing had happened. See more »


After Sacha and Vanya escape and remove the shackles from their ankles, they begin running upstream. The scene cuts to a different angle, and they are running downstream. See more »


Chechen Squad Leader: I was sure you would blow to pieces. It's your second birthday.
See more »


Written by V. Agapkin, A. Fedotov
See more »

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User Reviews

Bodrov Jr.-My people call him 'a babe'
23 June 2000 | by (Prague, Czech Republic) – See all my reviews

So much for the silly, honest summary. I've seen it twice but both times on t.v. and, both times, with Czech subtitles. Not being Czech, I have a slightly sticky time watching foreign films here. Despite these disadvantages, I love this film. The acting is superior to anything I've seen recently. And, of course, you know, I've a weakness for Bodrov Jr. (Vanja.) While following his somewhat shy and innocent character, you run up against Mensikov (Sasha) playing a professional soldier who knows probability and gusto at the same time. This is not your common Hollywood 'let's throw two opposites together and create tension.' They've been taken hostage by Sikharulidze (Abdul, in a performance of great strength and restraint) hoping to exchange them for his son (a captive of the Russians.) This is war but on the ground where its victims live. There is an immense respect for the lives of the Kavkaske people. The music, customs, faith, food and lives of these tough families is shown without judgment. How damned refreshing. I recommend this film to anyone who likes a fine story, excellent acting, stunning cinematography and mesmerizing music.

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