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The Priest (2009)

Pop (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama, History, War | 4 April 2010 (Russia)
Father Alexander is trying to maintain peaceful life for his church amidst the Nazi occupation during WWII.
2 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »


Cast overview, first billed only:
Sergey Makovetskiy ... Otets Aleksandr Ionin
Nina Usatova ... Matushka Alevtina
Elizaveta Arzamasova ... Eva (as Liza Arzamasova)
Kirill Pletnyov Kirill Pletnyov ... Aleksandr Lugotintsev
Anatoliy Lobotskiy Anatoliy Lobotskiy ... Freygauzen
Yuriy Tsurilo ... Mitropolit Sergey
Viktoriya Romanenko Viktoriya Romanenko ... Masha
Stepan Morozov Stepan Morozov ... Vladykin
Gennadiy Garbuk ... Nikolay Toroptsev
Aleksandr Doronin Aleksandr Doronin ... Otets Georgiy Benigsen
Vadim Zhuk ... Moisey Suskin
Nikolay Ryabychin Nikolay Ryabychin ... Stepan
Aleksandr Zavyalov ... Rozanov
Egor Shik Egor Shik ... Kostik Toroptsev
Anna Gulyarenko ... Timofeeva
Learn more

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Set in Russia and based on the true story happened during WWII. Father Alexander (Makovetsky) is making every effort to maintain peaceful life for his church during the Nazi occupation. His mission is to survive through the deadly war and save the civilians. But he is only a human... Written by Steve Shelokhonov

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Drama | History | War


Not Rated

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Award from the Latvian Orthodox Church for director Vladimir Khotinenko. See more »

User Reviews

Great story ruined by lamentable filming
9 January 2017 | by dsdsds16See all my reviews

"The Priest" deals with a fascinating piece of history from World War II. The Orthodox Church sends missionaries to the Russian countryside in order to enable a spiritual awakening among the common people, whose faith cooled under the skeptic Soviet regime. As the German invasion progress and the villages fall under enemy control, however, these missionaries reach a stalemate. Should they collaborate with the Germans, who promise freedom to preach and collect countless triumphs in the battlefield? Or should they resist the foreign invasion, therefore siding with the communists, who not long ago nearly destroyed the Orthodox cult?

Numerous plot possibilities arise from this dangerous puzzle. The director Vladimir Khotinenko chose a good one. He present us the kind Father Alexander, assigned to a mission in the Zakaty village, close to Pskov. The village is under German administration and Father Alexander holds his rituals regularly. His rights are guaranteed by Ivan Fyodorovich, a Russian-born Wehrmacht officer. The German brutality, however, increasingly bothers Father Alexander. POWs are mistreated, ruthless public executions take place right in front of Alexander's church, the local fascist militia carries out degenerate actions.

Eventually, Stalin manages to turn the tide of the war. Ivan Fyodorovich's prophetic words from the early scenes assume dreadful shape: "If it weren't for this war, every single church would be torn down by the Soviets... together with you." Father Alexander is now stuck in a no-win situation, threatened by communist retaliations and abandoned by his peers, for the Orthodox Church officially endorsed the Soviet cause in 1943. Indeed, we have a good plot. It amazes me in every way.

"The Priest", however, somehow loses all its grace. I felt tired while watching it. I found it dull and amateur. It looked like a poor quality flick from the 90s, to be fair. Obsolete camera techniques and editing tools ruined the experience. Who told Khotinenko random slow motion frames would look cool? I generally don't pay much attention to image details, but the issues here are glaring.

Moreover, the soundtrack is manipulative, repetitive and unoriginal. The scenes supposed to be transcendental and sacred, supposed to inspire religious fervor, look ridiculous thanks to the score and the filming. Lastly, the supporting actors are not really talented. They were unconvincing and unnatural in most situations. On the other side, the actors playing Father Alexander, his wife Aletvina and the Wehrmacht officer have done a wonderful job. But in no way they could save this film, not at all.

"The Priest" is a clear waste of potential. Such captivating background story deserves a serious approach from a competent director. I hope something good comes out soon.

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Russian | German | Latvian

Release Date:

4 April 2010 (Russia) See more »

Also Known As:

Cienīgtēvs See more »

Filming Locations:

Belarus See more »


Box Office

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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