A sarcastic comedy about the Imperial Russian 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".
Steve Shelokhonov, rev. by Skripach
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
The prisoner is confidential, and has no shape.
Sergei Prokofiev See more