Zhivoy (Alive) (2006)




Director:     .

Starring:     Olga Arntgolts (Nurse Olga), Aleksey Chadov (The priest), Andrey Chadov (Kir), Vladimir Epifantsev (Igor), Maksim Lagashkin (Nikich), Aleksandr Robak (Slavik), Viktoriya Smirnova (Tatyana), Ekaterina Volkova (Slavik's wife).

Chechen War veteran helped by the ghosts of his two fallen comrades to leave the war behind



Spoiler Warning:

Wounded soldiers of the Chechen War are recovering from their wounds in the hospital.  A pretty nurse comes in to tend to the various soldiers, one of which, Pakhomov, gets behind her and mimics like he is having sex with her from behind.  The nurse, Olga, quickly grabs the bed pan from underneath the soldier she is tending to and shoves it at the mimic.  She tells the soldier to empty the bed pan and disinfect it.  The other soldiers get a good laugh at this. 

Flashback.  Over the radio is heard a soldier saying that they need real help.   Another voice says help is on the way.  The first soldier says they are surrounded and can't descend from the mountains.

Back to the present.  Kir's left leg has been cut-off.  He tries to get up in the morning by himself but falls onto a chair and this makes a lot of noise as his crutches hit the floor.  At the same time he sees a photo of himself with his army buddies in better times.

The guys have a toast to their dead army buddies.  Nurse Olga comes in and says the alkies (alcoholics) must go back to their units.  She tells the guys that they have got just five minutes too clean up.  Pakhomov says something nasty about the nurse and Kir slugs him in the face.  Other soldiers stop Kir from doing anything else. 

Flashback.  Soldier Kir has been wounded in the lower left leg.  In a tarp, he is being carried along by four other soldiers.  Two of the carriers drop off and set up a machine gun.  The other two soldiers drag Kir through the snow.  Amidst the sound of rifle fire, the two carriers stop and give Kir an injection in his left leg.  One of the carriers is a huge fellow named Slava.  He drapes Kir over his shoulders and carries him out. 

Back to the present.  Kir gets a prosthetic leg.   He gets himself up, stands steady and then starts walking toward the door to the ward.  He says in English to the guys:  "Rock and Roll."  Then he swivels  180 degrees around, but falls down flat on his back.

Kir is now walking.  He goes to get some money, but a sign on the door says:  "No money." 

Kir goes to see an advisor, a Major, who tells him that he will have to wait for the next money transfer for his 10,000 rubles.  The advisor frankly says:  "There is no money."  Kir looks around and sees a file cabinet drawer labeled: "Drop-outs Due to Death".   He tells his advisor that he got a letter from Lt. Morozov.  The advisor looks for the Lieutenant's name in the dead drawer. 

Kir has another flashback to the battlefield.

The advisor tells Kir to send the card to the Lieutenant's wife but Kir says he doesn't know the woman at all.  Kir gets out of his seat, takes the card and walks out. 

Kir picks up his money.  He goes to a store and says he wants to buy a saber.  The salesman says Kir doesn't have enough money to buy the saber.  Kir says yes he does have enough money.  He buys a saber. 

Kir waits in the cold to get up the nerve to go in and see the Lieutenant's wife.  He sees her at a window and she sees him  They briefly look at each other and then the wife moves away from the window.  Kir knew what she looked like already because he was the one who saved some of the belongings of the Lieutenant.  And one of those belongings was a photo of the man's wife.  Kir has a flashback to when he was glancing at the wife's photo while he filled out the paper work for the Lieutenant's death form. 

Kir goes over to the house of the Major, his advisor.  The Major asks him why doesn't he go home?  Kir says he will do that today.  Kir starts getting mad over nothing and starts throwing money on the hood of the Major's car.  The Major knocks him down and then throws the money off the hood by wiping the money off the hood and onto Kir.  Kir gets up and mercilessly kills the major with his saber. 

Kir gets drunk and tries to smooch with two girls.  A male friend of theirs knocks Kir down.  The three people run away. 

Kir starts hitch hiking and gets hit by a passing car.  He dreams that he is sitting by a fire in the woods with two of his best war buddies who are dead.  One of the guys, Igor, says:  "Well, you did that creep in.  Now what?"  Kir asks:  "Why cast dough in my teeth?  I didn't fight for dough."  Igor replies: "Oh yeah, you're a hero."  He says Nikich and he wanted to make some money.  "Fighting for money, we died.  Fighting for an idea  --  he's alive."  Kir asks that if they were fighting for money, why did they cover him up?  Kikich says he did it because Moroz told him to. 

When the two buddies head out, Kir follows them.  They talk some more. 

A drunk on the street asks the men for some money.  The dead ones say no, but Kir says yes.  He gives the bum some money.

Kir gets on a bus with his two dead buddies.  The bus goes over the River Don.  He returns to his home.  His mother says she was expecting him earlier.  Kir says there were some delays at the base.  He gives his mother a nice serving dish as a gift.  Mom says that Gurianov has promised Kir a job as a security guard.  She goes on to say that Gurianov is unhappy with his staff.  They are always drinking.  Mom starts to cry. 

Mom has a coming home dinner at home for Kir.  Kir's girlfriend and the girlfriend's friend sit at the other end of the table from Kir.  The woman named Semina asks the red head Tanya how is it going with Kir?  She adds that Kir was such a good guy.  The red head asks why she used the past tense to refer to Kir?  Semina responds:  "His leg's chopped to the balls.  He can't get it up, I guess."  Nikich goes and tells Kir what Semina said.  Kir calls out to Semina.  He then says:  "They chopped off my leg to the knee.  So I can still have a hard-on."  Quite a few of the guests laugh at this, while Semina says:  Wow!

People leave the dinner and Kir and Tanya go for a walk.  She asks him if it's all over between them because of the leg?  She says that Vova will find a job for Kir and then Kir can buy a German leg instead of the inferior Russian one.  Kir says he has to leave because he really hasn't even talked to his mother yet.  Tanya thinks that's fair. 

Kir watches television.  His mother has fallen asleep in one of the chairs in the living room.  She wakes up and she asks Kir when did he get in?  Kir says just now.  Mom says that Tanya is a very good girl.  She says Tanya waited for him for two years , but then Kir did one more stint.  And mom wants to know why?  Kir doesn't answer the question.  Instead, he says he has to go to Moscow to see a friend tomorrow.  This causes mom to bet worried, but he explains that the man saved his life and he owes him a thank you.  Mom gets really upset and says that although Kir has come home, he hardly says a word to her.  She asks:  "Am I a stranger to you?"   Kir says she is not a stranger.   

The next day the guys get on a train going to Moscow.  Igor and Nikich talk together. Nikich says that actually on the battlefield Kir kind of left them alone.  Igor tells him to be quiet.  Kir must have heard them because he now says he's sorry about what happed there in Chechnya.  He also says something sarcastic:  "Forgive me for staying alive."  Igor says he wish he could punch Kir.  Kir tells him to go ahead and punch him.  Igor tells him:  "You are alive, right?  So live and have fun."  So Kir starts to punch at the two ghosts.  He makes a lot of noise because his fists keep crashing into the walls in the corridor between two railway cars.  A woman comes out to see what's going on. 

Next time we see Kir he is having sex with the pretty woman.  (brief nudity)

Kir and his buddies are at the Kremlin in Moscow.  After that they go to see the man, Slava, who saved Kir's life.  The man says he is caring for his little daughter nowadays.  At first, his daughter only called him "uncle". He asked his wife Lena to explain that to him. 

Slava brings his daughter Masha out to meet Kir.  But Masha also sees the two ghosts.  She starts playing with Igor in her room.  She traces his hand as it rests palm down on her construction paper. 

The guys play a joke on Kir.  They pull the pin out of a grenade and spin the grenade on the table.  Of course, only Kir can see the grenade.  He dives for the floor with his hands on his head.  Slava thinks the guy is going nuts and moves the kitchen knife farther down the table away from where Kir has been sitting. 

Slava's wife comes home.  The ghosts tells Kir that she is beautiful.  Slava talks to his wife and then asks Kir to wait for him downstairs.  He'll feed Masha and then the both of them will go for a drink. 

Kir waits outside for Slava.  Igor tells Kir that Slava is not coming out.  After awhile Kir gives up on Slava. 

The three men go to a club and listen to some music.  The ghosts leave Kir now. 

Kir sits down and pulls off his prosthetic leg off.  As he sits there, a car drives up.  A man with a very pregnant wife get out of the car and she goes to the bathroom.  When she is finished, they get back in the car and take off.  The man is aware of the one-legged man sitting on the steps.  The driver goes back and picks him up.  Kir asks the driver if he would take him to see his friends in Strogino.  He says it's not far and he will pay for the detour.  The man says okay.  He drops his wife off at home.  He then drives Kir to near Strogino.  Kir gets out and starts walking the rest of the way.  The driver starts to leave, but then decides to check up on Kir.  The two men have a drink together. 

What Kir really wanted to see was the cemetery in Strogino.  He jumps up on a tomb and starts yelling out:  "Igor! Nikich!"  There is no response.  Kir searches around the cemetery and accidentally finds the two graves of his two ghost friends.  He starts talking to the graves asking where the two men went?  Then he sees the graves of soldier Tatar and soldier Sanya.  But where, he asks, is the grave of Moroz?  He has the driver go bring him his vodka bottle.  With that he pours some vodka on each of the graves of the two friendly ghosts.  He lights a cigarette for Igor and puts it at the base of the man's headstone.  

As is so typical of Kir, he tries to strike the driver who is a priest.  The priest flips Kir onto the ground.  He holds Kir down.  When Kir gets up, he starts walking off.  The priest says some holy words over the graves of the dead soldiers.

It's night now and Kir is still walking.  And the priest is still saying words over the graves of the soldiers.  Kir reaches the priest's car.  He decides to hitch-hike again and gets hit again by a car.  The priest now notices that one of the graves of the soldiers is that of Kir. 

Kir wakes up in the morning.  Now he is with his two ghost buddies again. 

Tanya cries as she paints with a white paint over the walls covered with graffiti where she lives and works. 

The three ghosts go up into the mountains. 

"Rest in peace, guys."


Kir returns home from the war in Chechnya. The fellow has lost his lower left leg and he seems to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.  When he gets out of the hospital, he finds it hard to adjust to civilian life.  He reacts to even small problems with violence.  He even kills the Major who helped advise Kir on how to adjust to his new life.  Kir imagines that two dead war buddies of his are with him on his travels back home.  They accompany him wherever he goes.  They go back home with him.  They watch him as he has trouble talking to his mother and has trouble adjusting to his girlfriend. He starts wandering around Russia looking for his old war buddies who are still alive.  But he acts strangely around the buddies and the encounters do not go well.  In short, Kir is just one royal mess.  He should be receiving psychiatric care and taking medicine instead to wandering around Russia.  Kir gets so out of control that one has to be expecting something bad to happen to Kir.  The man is just not mentallty stable. 

The film is very serious, but there are a lot of funny scenes involving the two ghosts that are mixed into the film. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.



Historical Background:

Chechnya is currently a member of the Russian Federtion.  It is located between the Black Sea on the west and the Caspian Sea on the east.  The country is part of  the North Caucasus, the northern part of the Caucasus region.  Its southwest border lies on the northern border of the country of Georgia.  The country is land-locked.  Its capital is Grozny and its population is 1.25 million. 




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