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Europe, 1709. Russia and Sweden are at war. Two French duelists are exiled by King Louis XIV of France: one to the side of Czar Peter the Great of Russia, the other to the side of King Charles XII of Sweden. Although separated by war and allegiance, fate has not finished with them.Written by
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The main flaw was the plot, which sometimes seemed a bit contrived and incoherent, in particular the love story plot line. There were some clichés that could have been avoided or at least played differently, but once I got used to the fact that the whole thing was a sort of Three Musketeers meets Saving Private Ryan genre mash, that didn't bother me too much.
What starts out as a depiction of the splendor and pomp of Versailles under the Sun King eventually becomes a fairly brutal war story where several competing groups face each other, more accurately depicting the sometimes chaotic situation on the Russo-Polish borderlands during much of the late 17yh to early 18th century. Seemingly sympathetic characters are killed almost as an afterthought, and witnessing the differing reactions of the two protagonists - one French, the other Russian - brings home the differences in culture and outlook between them.
Kudos to the Russian film industry for their efforts towards historical correctness at least in props and settings, and for making the different characters speak different languages. Not knowing too much French, I cannot judge the pronunciation of the French lines spoken in the movie. Being Norwegian, and knowing a thing or two about the language spoken on the other side of the border to the east, I can say something about the Swedish lines spoken. In short, they ranged from obviously foreign (particularly on the part of the Swedish doctors) to what sounded seamlessly native. Since the Swedish army did incorporate a lot of foreigners, I didn't find that particularly odd. In any case, I've rarely seen a Hollywood movie do the same, it seems that making someone speak English with a funny accent is about as far as they are willing to go in the language department, at least up to fairly recently.
All in all a solid piece of production with a few rough edges. I'd like to see more Russian historical films, since there is a lot of interesting (and action-packed) history there to be made films of.
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