7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A valiant, although not entirely successful, attempt to pay respect to the White soldiers of Russian Civil War
I am quite glad that I saw this recent Russian film, and I rather liked it, although it certainly has many flaws.
"Admiral" is supposed to tell the story of life, struggles and death of Admiral Alexander Vasilyevich Kolchak (1874-1920), a man probably completely unknown to most people in the West - but quite familiar to those from Eastern Europe. Being Polish...
Published 17 months ago by Maciej
34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars where are the missing parts???
Having viewed the excellent original mini series in its native state from Russian TV i was looking forward to the English subtitle version. It arrived in good condition and in very good time. As i work overseas i was looking forward to spending some evenings watching the saga unfold but what i watched was a poor summary of the original series, with importamt parts of the...
Published on 21 Nov 2010 by Mr. Allan Mckenzie
Most Helpful First | Newest First
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A valiant, although not entirely successful, attempt to pay respect to the White soldiers of Russian Civil War,
This review is from: The Admiral [DVD]  (DVD)I am quite glad that I saw this recent Russian film, and I rather liked it, although it certainly has many flaws.
"Admiral" is supposed to tell the story of life, struggles and death of Admiral Alexander Vasilyevich Kolchak (1874-1920), a man probably completely unknown to most people in the West - but quite familiar to those from Eastern Europe. Being Polish and having grown under the communist rule, I quite well remember this name as one of the most famous "boogeymen" used in the official propaganda. Already in elementary school we had to read some Soviet books describing adventures of heroic little children who in time of Russian Civil War helped to the best of their abilities to defeat the hideous hordes of "White" evildoers commanded by the monstrous bloodthirsty wraith dressed in a sailor uniform - the Admiral! The hatred the communists still felt towards this man even 60 years after his death was unbelievable - but somehow understandable as, together with general Denikin, he gave them probably the biggest scare in the whole history of their sinister movement...
As this film describes only the years 1916-20, it can be interesting to have a short look at Kolchak's earlier life. Son of Major-General Vassily Kolchak, a veteran of Crimean War and specialist in coastal defence, he quite naturally followed in his father tracks by joining the Navy in 1894. After four years spend in Far East Fleet (Vladivostok, 1895-99), he volunteered to particularly dangerous duty in Arctic expeditions organised by Russian Navy (1900-1903). Having survived two long expeditions (from which some of his companions didn't return), he was reaffected again to the Far Eastern command and arrived there just in time to take part in the defense of Port-Arthur (1904-05) against the Japanese, first serving on cruiser "Askold".
He then received the command of the destroyer "Serdityi" and he led this ship in numerous mining operations. A minefield laid by "Serdityi" is credited with destruction of Japanese cruiser "Takasago" on 13 December 1904. After all Russian ships in Port-Arthur were disabled by fire of Japanese artillery and lack of coal and spare parts, Kolchak commanded a coastal battery (like his father in the Crimean War). Badly wounded, he was ultimately taken prisoner when the Port-Arthur garrison surrendered on 2 January 1905.
Between 1905 and 1914 Kolchak worked on reconstruction of Russian Navy. He soon became an authority on mines and mine warfare. His other speciality was designing powerful modern ice-breakers and by studying problems of travel in Arctic waters he also acquired a considerable scientifical reputation as glaciologist.
In the beginning of World War I he was affected to Baltic Sea Fleet and charged with laying a defensive bareer of extensive minefields. Once Russian bases were safe behind those protections, he proposed a vast operation of offensive mine-laying raids in German coastal waters and was designated to co-ordinate it. Although promoted already to Rear-Admiral, he insisted to participate in all those dangerous mining operations on board of small destroyers, amongst his men. Minefields his ships laid in Baltic Sea between 1914 and 1916 caused a great lot of trouble to Germans until the end of the war.
The action of the film begins at the very end end of his Baltic Sea exploits, just before he was promoted to Vice-Admiral and named Commander-in-Chief of Black Sea Fleet.
This film is not however a real biography - it is rather a "hagiography" of this very controversial man, avoiding black spots and focusing on his achievements, his religiosity and his personal life. "Admiral" has definitely many flaws:
- the first battle scene in the film is historically completely inaccurate, although inspired by real events; it describes the destruction of powerful German armoured-cruiser SMS "Friedrich Carl" and this is a historical event; however "Friedrich Carl" was sunk on 17 November 1914 (in the film it happens in 1916) and even if she was destroyed by mines laid by Russian destroyers commanded by Kolchak, at the moment of her sinking he himself was NOWHERE NEAR the site of her demise (entry to German port of Memel)...
- there is no mention of conditions in which Kolchak seized the power over the Provisional Government of Russia in Siberia (in reality he more or less made a coup d'etat)
- there is not even one mention of the very harsh way he dealt with all communists, real or suspected, during his great anti-Bolshevik offensive in 1919; in real history, Kolchak didn't hesitate to execute hundreds of people to eliminate all support for Bolcheviks in conquered areas; although it is also fair to say, that whatever atrocities he committed, they were peanuts compared to what communists were doing in the same time; it is safe to assume that for every hundred people executed during the Russian Civil War by the Whites, the Bolcheviks killed one thousand
- there is no mention of grievous mistakes he did in 1918-19; Admiral Kolchak was many things, but a politician and a diplomat he was not; by trying to return the land which peasants seized by force in 1917-18 to its rightful previous owners he alienated large parts of Siberian population and helped create a vicious guerilla on his communication lines; he turned against him the non-Bolchevik leftists ("esers" and "mencheviks"); he lost at critical moment the support of Czech and Polish troops fighting initially on Whites side in Siberia; and finally he didn't manage to obtain any support from foreign troops which entered Siberia in 1918 (Japanese and Americans)
- and finally the film gives too much place to the romance between Kolchak and his mistress, Anna Timiryova - and as a consequence there is not enough time left to treat war and history
But there are also many other points, which I liked very much and which made the watching of this film a rather enjoyable experience:
- the first battle scene (the destruction of "Friedrich Carl"), although historically inaccurate, is a very very powerful and touching one;
- the scenes of disintegration of Russian armed forces just before the revolution, including the one in which Kolchak is challenged by his own sailors, are excellent; the fate of officers and cadets during the revolution is shown in a terrifying (and terrific) way
- the scene in which the White Army in Siberia, standing in the immaculate snow, swears solemnly to fight for God and country is a splendor - I confess that I actually had tears in my eyes at the end...
- the great bayonet charge of White soldiers, who have no more munitions so they have to go take them from the enemy, is a REALLY great one
- the terrifying Great Siberian Ice March of White soldiers from general Vladimir Kappel's army is IMPRESSIVE (and it is a very real event)!
- the surrealist train trip which brings Admiral Kolchak to his fate is at least as good as the train voyage from "Doctor Zhivago"
- the scene in which Kolchak finally meets his destiny is extremely powerful
- it must also be said that Elizaveta Boyarskaya, who plays Anna Timiryova, is a drop dead gorgeous, eyes-hurting-level beauty...
- and finally, the post-scriptum scenes showing the later life of Anna Timiryova are very, very touching; the communists have so much feared and hated Admiral Kolchak that even after his death, unable to reach his family (his wife and son lived safely in France), at least they kept tormenting his mistress, for no less than FORTY years!
So all in all, I give to this film four stars, even if it is maybe a little bit too generous - but I ultimately rather liked it. Also, I am happy that this movie was made and that, although far from perfection, it gave some respect to all those soldiers of the White Armies, who not only lost their war and their lifes, but then kept being insulted and vilified for the next 70 years in every possible way and by every possible media - almost as if the communists feared that one day they could rise from their graves and overthrow them; which is in a certain way exactly what happened in 1991...
34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars where are the missing parts???,
This review is from: The Admiral [DVD]  (DVD)Having viewed the excellent original mini series in its native state from Russian TV i was looking forward to the English subtitle version. It arrived in good condition and in very good time. As i work overseas i was looking forward to spending some evenings watching the saga unfold but what i watched was a poor summary of the original series, with importamt parts of the story and plot being cut out obviously to fit it to a single disc. Anyone watching this will get a totally wrong idea of the quality of the original series which like i say was excellent. My wife is a native Russian speaker so i guess if i want to watch it again i will again have to rely on her translating the more complete series from the original version put out on Russian TV. A Great series cruely butchered in this product. I will attempt to find the original uncut version because it is a great story.
Dont buy unless you are happy with a summary not the full series...... Very dissapointed
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lousy history, entertaining epic,
This review is from: The Admiral [DVD]  (DVD)History has always been a somewhat fluid commodity in Russia, with one decade's hero of the Revolution another's traitor as the propaganda needs of the day dictated, and judging from Andrey Kravchuk's 2008 epic Admiral the reverse trajectory is just as likely in the New Russia, with one of Tsarist Russia's most notorious and dictatorial mass murderers, Admiral Aleksandr Vasileyevich Kolchak, whitewashed into a noble romantic hero. It's a bit like a film celebrating the humanitarian achievements of one of Pol Pot's executioners or showing the loveable side of Heinrich Himmler.
Former Polar explorer Kolchak may have fought on the `right' side as the leader of the disastrous White Russian resistance to the Revolution, but he was so utterly ruthless in his suppression of the people, thinking nothing of killing and torturing 25,000 civilians in one city alone and exhorting his generals to exterminate entire local populations, that no foreign government in the world would recognise his government. And while a certain amount of communist propaganda might be expected to exaggerate his very real failings and cruelty (which in many ways guaranteed the victory of the Bolsheviks he despised), he wasn't overly popular with his own allies either, many of whom regarded him as a pro-British puppet before even the British turned against him and his Czechoslovak allies handed him over to the Reds. So, all-in-all, not one of the likelier candidates for an admiring biopic with a cast of thousands, but in Putin's Russia such is the stuff of heroes. Like Braveheart, you have to forget any thoughts of historical fidelity and just take it as a kind of wishful thinking period fantasy.
Of course, Kolchak was far from the only war hero to spectacularly blot his copybook when he got into politics to save his country from itself, as hundreds of examples from Pompey to Petain have shown, and there could have been a fascinating story in how the very qualities that made him an ideal warrior were disastrous in politics. But that's not the kind of film this is: Admiral is pure print the legend stuff. Kicking off with a spectacular and genuinely exciting naval battle that sees Kolchak (Night Watch's Konstantin Khabenskiy) crippling a German battleship single-handed before despatching it in a tense chase through a minefield, it's clear we're in mythmaking rather than debunking territory here. It's the kind of love story where the sun is always shining beautifully, even when it's raining, where bloody battles are accompanied by love letters being read in adoring voice over, where even in the midst of evacuating a city the hero can find time for a railway station reunion with his lover, where pledges to protect God and country are accompanied by thousands of kneeling extras and soaring devotional music and where even his wife understands why he'd have an affair with the most beautiful woman in all the Russias (Elizaveta Boyarskaya) without kicking up too much of a fuss. His allies may betray him and the odd regiment desert, but the people love him more than life itself - not too surprising since we never see him mistreat a single peasant, let alone destroy a city. All that's missing is John Wayne saying "Aw, truly this man was the Son of God." Watching the film you have to wonder how he could ever have lost so disastrously.
Opening and closing on the set of what's clearly meant to be Bondarchuk's War and Peace, it sets its political stall out early: even 44 years later, Party officials want to fire an extra who was the lover of an enemy of the Revolution despite the director's insistence on keeping her because he needs faces like hers (if the casting of a svelte actor as the portly Bondarchuk seems odd, it's perhaps excusable since it's actually his son, Fyodor Bondarchuk). And that's probably the nicest the Communists get in this film. We get plenty of examples of the Bolsheviks' random acts of cruelty and mass murder, but never any of the outrages on the Tsarist side that led to them: indeed, it's not until the Revolution that we even see some workers, the film being strictly an officer class affair until then. Considering the role of the Russian navy in the revolution, it's more than just a massive oversight in a film about an admiral... But then the film's sins of omission are many and massive. It even drops broad hints that Kolchak's government was recognised by the allies while his atrocities are washed completely from the record.
So far, so reprehensible. But while it may be crudely simplistic in its unquestioning hero-worship, it's often superbly executed as a piece of epic cinema. Like the best propaganda movies, for all the heavy-handed unjudgemental mythmaking it carries you along with a skilful appeal both to unashamed populist sentiment - it's not how history was but how it should have been - and by not forgetting to be entertaining along the way. It's well acted, beautifully photographed with some spectacularly vivid imagery and the kind of superlative production design that hasn't been seen since the roadshow epics of the 60s. As history it may be a worrying travesty, but as a grand old-fashioned CinemaScope Glorious Technicolor romantic epic with a cast of thousands and some pretty impressive special effects, it's undeniably effective. Still, one can only wonder what the producers are planning to follow it up with - Eichmann: The Garden Party Years, perhaps?
Metrodome's PAL DVD boasts a fine 2.35:1 widescreen transfer with English subtitles, but the only extra is a trailer.
24 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Admiral - Controversial or not?,
Its all subtitled of course, the acting is competent although in my opinion does not glow, however the fact that you are having to read the subtitles adequately disguises this fact.
The Russians have certainly spared no expense in the historical accuracy of the settings in this film either.
Admiral Kolchak (whom this film studies) is portrayed as a tragic hero fighting for the his country and his country mens best. I have to say that the story of Kolchak is a somewhat fascinating one. He was an authoritarian maniac at one time and an inspired military genius at others, responsible for the torture and murder of many thousands of civilan's in the barbaric Russian civil war he also collected some of Russia's highest accolades for bravery. His supporters were staunch and his detractors hated him without reserve! So much so that the American military attache to white Russia refused to lend any support to his battles due to personal differences!
If anything one could say that this is a propagandist film aimed at rehabilitating the memory of an extremely focussed and driven military man who bordered on fanaticism
When all is said and done though, this film is well worth a watching
The Admiral [DVD] 
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Admiral,
This review is from: The Admiral [DVD]  (DVD)The opening scenes, and throughout the film, the effects of the sea battles, are rather exciting! On the whole, this is Quite a Good Movie. Wonderful photography, and along with costumes, and authentic settings of that era. It's Well worth a look.
However on some of the subtitles, you'll have to be a fast reader. Never the less, I'm glad, to make it part of my DVD collection. And will certainly watch it again.
18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Admiral Zhivago,
Kolchak's assumption of command of the White Army pressing on Moscow introduces a number of new and perhaps unknown features for non-Russian audiences (the Czech Legion being an example) and to the connecting thread of the trans-Siberian railway. It also allows the film to celebrate the Russian virtues of endurance and stubborness. The White attack in which a nurse is shot and the troops go berserk is well portrayed (from the point of view of the Red machine-gunner especially).
The film might have ended as it had to with Kolchak's death, but very cleverly his "wife" reappears briefly in history linking two eras. To some western audiences the doomed and rather naive love-affair may seem old hat, but I suspect once again it summarises how Russians see themselves. It is going to attract comparison with Dr Zhivago but I think it stands well on its own account. If nothing else it has inspired me to dig out my books on the topic.
4.0 out of 5 stars Good movie,
4.0 out of 5 stars Well made and entertaining but flawed, too solemn,
This review is from: The Admiral [DVD]  (DVD)An interesting, if flawed, biopic about Alexander Kolchak, Russian admiral during World War I, and after the Russian revolution, leader of the Russian whites during the civil war. I know the Soviet Union ended more than 20 years ago, but I was still surprised to see such a reverent movie about one of the leaders of the Russian whites. For example, the scene where Kolchak takes command of his army with the blessing of the Russian Orthodox Church is told with soaring musing, and without any hint of irony. Story of his romance with the wife of one of his fellow officers adds very little (in fact, probably detracts) from the film. In summary, a generally well made film and with a relatively generous budget, but a bit too reverent and solemn toward its subject.
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly great move!,
3.0 out of 5 stars Unfortunately, editing down a ten hour TV series into a two hour film was never going to work,
This review is from: The Admiral [DVD]  (DVD)Admiral Aleksandr Kolchak is one of the most controversial characters of twentieth century Russian history. A naval hero in World War One, he became a ruthless 'White' dictator during the Russian Civil War. Even today, there is much debate in Russia as to whether Kolchak was a hero or a villain. When the Bolsheviks seized power in the Russian Revolution of 1917, Kolchak joined the White anti-communist forces in Siberia. By November 1918 he had been named as the Supreme Ruler of Russia and had promoted himself to Full Admiral. Under his counter-revolutionary rule Tsarist laws were restored and his White armies waged war on the communist 'Red' forces. In April 1919 the Bolshevik Central Executive Committee made defeating Kolchak its number one priority. In January 1920 he was captured by Left SR [Socialist Revolutionary] soldiers at Irkutsk in Siberia and executed by firing squad on the morning of 7 February 1920.
"Admiral" is a heavily edited two hour film version of a ten hour epic TV series which was shown on Russian television and, as such, it was never going to work in its own right. Removing 80% of any story and expecting it still to make sense is just plain stupid and this film version of Admiral is no exception. Massive gaps in the narrative render the plot disjointed and confusing and, despite some first rate acting by the leads, the character development is almost non-existent; characters appear and disappear throughout the film with no indication of who they are or why they're there. This would spoil any film but in an historical epic such as this - where the timeline and narrative are crucial - it's unforgivable. Unless you already know a fair bit about The Russian Revolution, Admiral Kolchak and The Russian Civil War, you'll find this film baffling.
That said, one way this film most definitely does work is as a 'trailer' for the ten hour TV series from which it's taken. The scenes that we do actually get to see here are beautifully filmed and well-acted. The scenery is splendid, the costumes superb and combined with the well-shot, authentic St Petersburg, Crimean and Siberian locations it succeeds in creating a visually stunning representation of Russia as it was before, during and after the revolution. If you're interested in Russian history then this film will, despite the failings highlighted above, whet your appetite for the full blown series. Sadly, the series isn't yet available on DVD with English subtitles [although a Russian only version is available from Eastern Europe or the United States]. Hopefully it will be picked up by a UK distributor sometime soon. The story of Admiral Kolchak, the man who nearly saved Russia from Bolshevism, is a fascinating one and it's one that deserves a much wider audience.
As this film shows only 20% of the story, I was tempted to give it only 20% of the score, i.e. 1 star. However, the story of Admiral Kolchak is so interesting, and what little of the complete 10 hour work we get to see here looks so good, that I've given it 3 stars. Roll on a UK release of the 10 part series.
Most Helpful First | Newest First
The Admiral [DVD]  by Andrei Kravchuk (DVD - 2010)