Director: Andrei Kravchuk.
Starring: Konstantin Khabenskiy (Admiral), Elizaveta Boyarskaya (Anna), Sergey Bezrukov (General Kappel), Vladislav Vetrov (Sergey Timirev), Anna Kovalchuk (Sofia), Egor Beroev (Mikhail Smirnov), Richard Bohringer (General Zhannen), Oleg Fomin (Nikolay Podgurskiy), Anatoliy Pashinin (Rostislav Ognivtsev), Dmitriy Shcherbina (Vladimir Rybaltovskiy), Viktor Verzhbitskiy (Kerenskiy).
Russian film about a love story involving the general of the White Army Alexander Kolchak who became the supreme governor of Russia
Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire film.
Baltic Sea, Pillau Region. German waters. 1916. A Russian ship is dropping mines into the water. The commander says that the mines should be at least seven meters from the surface. The commodore is Alexander Vasilievich Kolchak. He has a wife Sofia Fyodorovna and a son named Rostislav. He talks with his second in command Sergei Nikolaevich Timirev. He has a beautiful wife named Anna Vasilievna Timirev. He shows his commander a picture of her. Alexander says "beautiful". The two top officers are called up to the bridge. Straight ahead of them is a much larger German ship Friedrich Karl. All of a sudden the ship opens fire on them. A shell hits the pipes in the engine rooms which stops the propellers. Now they are a sitting duck for the Germans.
All hands are ordered to their battle stations. A shell lands and the explosion throws Kolchak against the wall, stunning him. He watches as the men manning their guns are killed. Kolchak rushes to the largest gun, has it loaded, aims it and fires. He gets a bull's eye with a hit on the running tower.
The sailors in the steam room repair the pipes and now the propellers work again. Kolchak gives the order to head for Pillau. Someone objects: "But that's our minefield!" Kolchak give the order for all the officers to assemble. He explains to them that there is a whole German squadron behind the Friedrich Karl. There is no escape for them but to lure the German ships onto their mines. The entire crew gathers to pray for their own safety.
Into the mine field they go. They narrowly avoid hitting many mines. Then they run up against one straight ahead of them. The engines are stopped and then reversed to get away from the mine. The German ship keeps closing in on them until suddenly it hits a mine. It sinks relatively fast.
The officers are now at a ball celebrating their victory. Rear Admiral Kolchak receives a dare to kiss the first person coming next through the door to the ballroom. The first one to walk through the door is Anna, the wife of Sergei. Kolchak explains to her the dare and she seems disturbed by it. While standing before Anna, a button of the Admiral's coat pops off and everyone, including Anna, start laughing.
The Rear Admiral watches his wife and child sleeping in bed. The next morning the family (wife, mother-in-law and son) go with the Admiral to the beach. There Kolchak runs into Anna. He tells her that today when he went to Helsingfors he was sure he would meet Anna today. Sofia watches her husband intently. Her mother tells her that their neighbor is too beautiful. Sofia responds that her husband's infatuations don't normally last long. Anna asks Kolchak if he is coming to the ball at the home of the Podorgskys tomorrow? He says yes.
At the ball Alexander speaks with Anna for a long time. She tells him that she is a Shelkova Cossack and their Cossacks married Turkish women. Alexander says he has Turkish blood in him too. They toast to Turkish blood. Sergei watches the couple for a while and then leaves. Alexander walks her home at night. Sofia watches her husband from their apartment window. When he arrives home Sofia tells him that it is late. Then she asks him if everything is okay between them. Alexander responds: "Not exactly." She wants to know if he has fallen in love and he tells her he doesn't know. Sofia says she will not stand in his way, that she will take her mother and their son and go to Petersburg. Alexander assures her she doesn't have to go. He says they are husband and wife and it will always be that way.
Anna has a bit of a dispute with her husband. He tells her that she swore before God to be faithful to him. She responds: "So what?" And technically she has been faithful to him, she says, because she has not gone to bed with anyone else since their marriage.
The Rear Admiral receives a new assignment which he carries out quickly He tells Nikolai Alexandrovich to tell headquarters that the mining operation is finished. They are heading back home.
Sergei gives Alexander a letter requesting a transfer to another ship. The Rear Admiral asks him if they have disappointed him in some way? It's personal., Sergei says.
A radio message comes in from Prince Melikov. The army men in the trenches by the shore are taking a real plastering from German artillery.
Ragostem Cape, Gulf of Riga, 1916. The army commander receives a message from Kolchak: "I arrived with the Glory." A sailor hooks the ship's wires to the communications center by the shore. The men are ordered to their battles stations and they start firing on the German artillery. The army officer guides the ship's artillery to improve the accuracy of the ship's shells. As the shots start hurting the Germans, they turn their guns on the ship. They knock out the communications center connection, but a sailor reconnects it. They adjust fire again and continue damaging the Germans. On the ground the situation turns in the favor of the Russians and the Russian commander gives the command to attack the German positions.
Anna gets off her carriage to see Alexander. She gives him a letter which she says she has written in Morse code. But Alexander has bad news. This will be the last time they will meet. Anna is very disappointed. She says: "We didn't even dance." It's the last meeting, he says, "because I love you." He says farewell and starts walking away. She asks him to return the letter. He does so and then leaves.
Mogilev, 1916. The Emperor's General Headquarters. The Emperor of Russia speaks with Rear Admiral Kolchak. The Emperor says that he has heard of Kolchak's bravery in battle. He is now promoted to Vice Admiral and Commander-in-Chief of the Black Sea fleet.
The Vice Admiral sends Anna a basket of flowers. The card says: "I must know that you're alive." Knowing that Alexander is leaving for Sevastopol on the Black Sea, she rushes to the railway station. As she approaches the station entrance, she sees Sofia coming back from the station. Alexander has already left.
Sevastopol. Anna writes Alexander a love letter. She asks him when he will be in Petrograd (Petersburg). Alexander receives a message: "On March 2 Emperor Nicholas II abdicated the throne." The power is now held by the Provisional Government.
Kronstadt, 1917. Naval officers are shot by the Red guards. Sergei is lucky to slip away. He hurries back to Anna. He tells her to pack her bags quickly. Admiral Nepenin has been killed by the bayonets of the Red guards. Sergei says they are going to Petrograd. Anna says she can't go. She is waiting for something. Sergei begs her to go with him. He finally says they either go or they both are finished.
Sevastopol. Sailors go into the office of the Vice Admiral unannounced. A spokesman says that the first order of the Petrograd Soviet is for all officers to hand over their weapons. Kolchak tells them to get out of his office. They obey. The Vice Admiral orders all hands on deck. He says to avoid bloodshed, he wants all the officers to turn over their weapons. They all comply.
In Petrograd Kerensky is in charge of the government. Anna gets a letter from Alexander. He says he will be in Petrograd in three days.
In Sevastopol Alexander speaks with his wife who tells him it's dangerous in Petrograd. Admiral Nepenin was stabbed to death. Alexander goes to talk with his son.
Kerensky wants the Vice Admiral to be the Minister of War. Anna bathes. She is looking forward to meeting Alexander at the Mikhailovsky Castle. Alexander speaks with Kerensky. He says he will only take the job if he can reinstate strict order in the military. Kerensky cannot agree with this demand since the soviets have rejected strict hierarchy in the armed forces. Alexander says he will resign from the military and Kerensky accepts. Kerensky says Kolchak should be arrested, but he is going to let him go to the United States of America. He even agrees to resettle Kolchak's family in America.
Alexander meets Anna on the steps of the castle. He tells her that he is going to America. He also says that he loves Anna and always will. Devastated, she walks away from him.
Sevastopol The sea is filled with the bodies of executed officers floating in the water each one with his feet tied to a rope attached to a heavy stone. Mrs. Kolchak and her family have to sneak out to avoid being arrested. They get into a boat that will take them to a British ship.
Trans-Siberian Railway, Autumn 1918. Anna is on the train. She runs into a naval officer they call Misha. Anna tells him her husband is being sent to the Far East. He is supposed to disarm the Pacific Fleet for the Reds. Misha says he's off to Omsk. Kolchak is there. Anna is shocked. She says that Kolchak went abroad. Misha says he did, but once the Reds took over the government, he returned to fight the Bolsheviks. Anna goes back to her cabin and tells her hubby immediately that she loves Alexander and needs to be with him. He hugs her, but she is still going.
Siberia. Eastern Front, November 1918. Kolchak is now in charge. On a platform he speaks to everyone. Anna is there to hear his message, but she does not seek to speak with Kolchak.
Omsk. Anna volunteers as a nurse. She starts writing a letter to Alexander.
A big battle takes place. On a wagon carrying the wounded, she sees Alexander passing by with his troops. The news is that the Allied governments have recognized the Whites as the only legitimate government of Russia. Kolchak sends General Kappel to take Ufa. French General Janin of the Allies arrives. Kolchak tells him that no foreigner is allowed to command Russian troops, but he does give him command of the Czech forces. Anna again sees Alexander from afar. He is now the Supreme Commander of the armed forces.
Kolchak speaks to his troops and others again. He says they have taken Perm, Ekaterinburg, Elabug and Gen. Kappel just recently took Ufa. At present they are only 100 kilometers from Denikin's armies.
Anna's nursing colleague urges her to speak to Kolchak. There are not enough wagons to transport the wounded, if they suddenly have to evacuate. Anna tells her that it's impossible.
Kolchak is in conference with other leaders. The news is that the Reds have crossed the Tobol River. They must save Omsk! Anna arrives, but with all the activity, she knows she can't get in to see Alexander. More bad news. The Second Ukrainian Regiment has defected and abandoned the central front. The Reds are now moving toward Omsk and will be there her in a week or two. Kolchak says that Irkutsk will be their new seat of power and orders the evacuation of Omsk.
Omsk, November 1919. People are struggling against each other to get a seat on the train. Kolchak and the Prime Minister Viktor Nikolaevich Pepelyaev are brought aboard and shown the layout of their quarters and offices. Misha shows up and tells Alexander that he thinks he saw Anna here. Alexander gets off the train and goes over to her. She is shocked to see him. He tells her that he made a terrible mistake by parting from her. He would now like her to go with him in his carriage and be with him. Anne kisses Alexander. The kiss has to be short because Red artillery shells land not that far away from the station. Panic spreads among the passengers and those waiting for seats on the train.
Paris, France 1919. Mrs. Kolchak lives in a small room with her son. She sees the newspaper headline: "How long will the Supreme Ruler of Russia continue to retreat?" She cries because in the photo accompanying the article she sees Anna by her husband.
Trans-Siberian Railroad, 470 km to Irkutsk. In his train compartment the Supreme Ruler wishes Anna a Merry Christmas. They have a drink of champagne. He tells her that he has asked his wife for a divorce. Alexander then asks her if she will marry him? Anna says isn't it enough to be together at last? The train stops.
Nizhneudinsk Station. 450 km to Irkutsk. The Czechs have delayed them so they can move all their own railway cars. The Prime Minister tells the Czech Major that stopping the train of the Supreme Ruler is treason. The Major tells the Prime Minister that there is an uprising in Irkutsk. There is nowhere to go.
There arrives from Kulomzino a message from Kappel. He has bypassed Kulomzino and is headed their way. Kolchak tells Kappel that he must reach Irkutsk at all costs. Kappel is engaged in a battle and is in trouble because his troops are running out of ammunition. Kappel asks the commander in the field why has the offensive stopped? Because there are no bullets left. Nevertheless, Kappel has orders to proceed to Irkutsk. Sergei is with the unit. They are going to have to have a bayonet charge against the Reds.
Vladimir Oskarovich Kappel is leading the charge. The men start moving slowly across an open field. Men are being killed all over the field. A nurse treating the wounded sees so many men falling that she decides to step up and help lead the charge She starts shouting to move up, to fight. The Reds shoot her dead. This makes the White troops very angry. Now they run to the trenches in front of them. They win the battle. The Supreme Ruler attends church. Anna is with him.
Irkutsk, General Janin's Control Headquarters. The Supreme Ruler calls the general. Janin tells him that the Czechs have declared their neutrality and are evacuating the area. Janin does, however, guarantee the Admiral's safely. So Alexander continues on to Irkutsk. He leaves some people back in Nizhneudinsk. Anna goes on with Alexander.
Railroad. 400 km to Irkutsk. As they pass the various stations along the way, Alexander sees Red soldiers there.
Taiga, bank of the River Kan. 375 km to Irkutsk. Vladimir tries to cross the river, but his horse and he fall through the ice. They pull him out, but now he is terribly cold.
320 km away from Irkutsk. Kolchak gets the message that Irkutsk has fallen. Alexander tells Anna that he regrets the terrible situation she finds herself in with him. Anna says that these have been the happiest days of her life.
Zima Station, 230 km to Irkutsk. Anna sees the officers abandoning the train. She runs out to stop them telling them to turn back. It is no use. They keep going. Misha tells her that the Admiral himself dissolved the convoy. Alexander tells Misha to leave. He also tells Misha to find his family and tell them . . . something.
Irkutsk. General Janin's Headquarters. A Red comrade explains the terrible situation the General finds himself in. The General agrees and asks what are his demands? He wants Kolchak. The comrade says that if Janin protects Kolchak, the workers might resort to lynch law and then the comrade would not be able to protect Janin and his troops. The comrades starts walking away. Janin thinks for a moment or two and then calls out: "Comarade!"
Vladimir has frostbitten feet. They have to be removed as gangrene has already set in. The White train arrives at Irkutsk. The Czech Major comes on the train with some Red soldiers and tells Kolchak that they are turning him over to the local authorities, which is the Irkutsk Political Center. Anna helps pack Alexander's things. They leave Anna alone and escort Kolchak away. At headquarters they disarm Kolchak. Anna packs her bag and gets off the train. She tells the Reds that she is the wife of the Admiral. Alexander pleads with her not to do this, but she persists.
After terribly painful amputations Vladimir is back riding his horse with his troops.
The Admiral and the Prime Minister are put into jail cells. Anna is put into another.
Vladimir is dying as the army nears Irkutsk.
When the Admiral is permitted to walk in the yard, Anna is there to see him. She goes toward him and pressures the guard to let her go right up to him. He concedes. She tells Alexander that Kappel will set them free soon.
The White troops reach a lake and the Red open fire on them.
The Reds come for the Admiral and the Prime Minister. They take them onto the frozen lake. There they are killed by a firing squad. Anna, in her jail cell, hears it. The bodies are thrown into a large cut hole in the ice designed for a baptism.
Moscow Film Studio, 1964. The producer understands that the woman called Anna who wants to act in the film about the Admiral is the real Anna Timireva. He is amazed that she looks so good after spending thirty years in the camps. Her face is too good to be in certain scenes. They are rehearsing for the scene of the ball celebrating the naval victory of the Admiral. As she watches the dancers, she day dreams of dancing with the Admiral the dance that they never really had.
Anna died in Moscow on January 1, 1975. Sergei headed for the White Guard's Naval Forces in the Far East. He emigrated. He served as a captain of a ship and died in Shanghai, China in 1932. Sofia lived in Paris. She devoted her life to her son and died in 1956. Her son fought in the French army against the Germans. He died in 1965.
Good movie telling about the supreme ruler of the White forces during the Russian Civil War that followed the Russian Revolution of 1917. Konstantin Khabenskiy (Admiral) and Elizaveta Boyarskaya (Anna) were both very good in the film. And what a sacrifice for love on the part of Anna! Thirty years in the soviet camps when she really could have avoided being punished at all. That's either a great love or a tremendous obsession.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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