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I always thought of Vladimir Khotinenko as of a really bad director who managed to create one good film "Musulmanin". The man ruined "Po Tu Storonu Volkov" and later directed a box-office hit, but of very low quality "72 Metra". After I saw the trailer for Gibel Imperii, I was quite sure it will be a failure as well. But I changed my opinion about Khotinenko after the very first episode of this, truly unique, TV mini series.
First of all, the atmosphere is recreated perfectly; the settings, the costumes, the way the actors communicate and behave all feels like the beginning of the greatest century - the 20th century. Every character is convincing from his very first appearance on the screen to the last. Krasko, Makovetskiy & Khamatova are clearly the best leading actors of the film, while the one-episode appearances by Lykov, Trukhin and many other popular actors make you wonder how extremely talented modern Russian actors actually are. Mikhail Truhin's role in one of the last episodes is a huge discovery for me, I mean, we all remember (I'm speaking about the Russian audience here) him as Volkov in the Ulitsy Razbitikh Fonarey series, but I could never imagine that he actually is such a great actor. Even the popular Baluev, who always has the same face expression is interesting to watch as a physically and mentally damaged veteran of the Russian-Japanese War.
Though all the episodes are certainly connected by a deep historical storyline, each feels like a separate great film. All the 11 stories are interesting and captivating.
This period in Russian history was a taboo during Soviet times, we don't have a lot of films that show us the Imperical Russia in a good way, or at least in an unbiased way. But Gibel Imperii (The Fall of the Empire in English) tells us about that time.
I'm proud to own it on DVD.
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